Review: The Vaccines at the Corner Hotel, Melbourne, 27 July 2015

Intense perfectionism meets who gives a f**k?

‘Lonely, bored and bad, thank god I’m handsome’ were among the first lyrics The Vaccines’ singer Justin Young sang over the Corner Hotel crowd on July 27th. On the band’s last visit to Australia, Young greeted crowds with a chorus of ‘I’m in a bad, bad mood, a bad, bad mood.’

A pattern is emerging.

With the earlier shows set to a cloudy afternoon with a mediocre turnout and an even more mediocre sound at the Lorne Falls Festival, Young’s characteristic growls and scowls had seemed genuine. Fast-forward two years, and at their sold out Splendour sideshow at The Corner, that same glowering face was tinted with a bit of a smirk.

If the lesson learned is that The Vaccines are somewhat temperamental in their live shows, and don’t mind letting the audience see their ‘bad mood’, then the crowd at The Corner was in luck.

The London band strolled nonchalantly onto the stage at 9pm and wooed the audience with some of their more up-beat singles like Wrecking Bar and Wetsuit, before lulling us into a dream-state with more relaxed tracks, such as Give Me a Sign and Falling In Love from their new album English Graffiti.

The crowd followed Young’s every move as he built us slowly back up to fever pitch with high-frequency hits like Teenage Icon and If You Wanna.

The Vaccines have figured out how to sound great live – and the result is very, very fun.

A shout-out to their desire to be known for their ‘serious music’ occurred halfway through with last year’s single Melody Calling, and although the crowd knew every word, it was overshadowed by the cynical wit of songs like Post Break-Up Sex, which had the audience screaming along so loudly that Young barely had to bother.

The band’s who-gives-a-fuck attitude had clearly been shelved over the few years since their last live shows in Australia, as their very tight live sound spoke of some pretty intense perfectionism. Although there were a couple of warbling notes from Freddie Cowan and Árni Árnason on backup vocals, these were definitely an exception to the rule.

The rule being that The Vaccines have figured out how to sound great live – and the result is very, very fun.

The five young men that form The Vaccines had The Corner Hotel in their pockets by the end of their hour-and-a-half set.

With puppy dog eyes Young asked the audience, “Love, what a bummer, eh?”, stressing his image as the loveable scoundrel.

“We were always coming back,” Young told the audience after he sauntered solo back on stage to play an encore.

His soothing acoustic version of No Hope quietened the audience into a brief rest before the band came back on stage to whip us up again with Radio Bikini and All In White before dropping their instruments and walking off stage without so much as a goodbye.

Their abrupt departure left some reeling, and all wanting more of their rollicking sound and cheeky grins.

Thankfully, we won’t have long to wait. The Vaccines will be back again to play shows in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney with Mumford and Sons in November.

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