Five things we learned at The Vaccines’ first London show in two years

They last played London in April 2016

Last night (February 6) The Vaccines graced London’s House of Vans with a new line-up and new tracks in anticipation of their forthcoming fourth album ‘Combat Sports’ (due March 30). Here’s what we learned.

1. New drummer Yoann Intonti is right at home

For their first song the band launched into new track ‘Nightclub’. It didn’t take half a verse for bassist Arni Arnason to waltz over to the band’s new (and very settled) drummer Yoann Intonti for a chat – and these mini-exchanges continued throughout the night.

The Vaccines at the House of Vans

2. Justin got up close and personal

Young’s swagger was in full flow by track two, when he went guitarless and cradled the mic for another new track, ‘Surfing in the Sky’, shades still on. Throughout the night he registered exactly the right levels of nonchalance and passion behind the mic, speaking only when needed and letting the music do the talking.

The Vaccines at the House of Vans

3. There’s a lot of love for the new tunes

Recent releases ‘Nightclub’ and ‘I Can’t Quit’ were the most enthusiastically received tracks of the evening, with the former opening the show to one of the loudest cheers of the night. ‘I Can’t Quit’, meanwhile, opened the encore and the crowd chanted every word. Three years on from ‘English Graffiti’, the band seem to have more of a sense of their roots than they’ve had in years.

The Vaccines at the House of Vans

4. The unreleased tracks sound great

‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’ was the first of the unreleased tracks played at the gig. Jumpy, heavy-pop chords mixed with Young’s falsetto: its dramatic middle eight picked up into a guitar solo accompanied by spontaneous crowd clapping.

‘Rolling Stones’ was another brilliant new one: it’s slower, contemplative and more melancholy than most Vaccines numbers. But the chorus rears up, becoming quite euphoric, and two other guitars kick in, before it closes in a moody minor. It might end up being the prettiest song on the new album.

The Vaccines at the House of Vans

5. Their best new song is about a t-shirt

The opener for new album ‘Combat Sports, ‘Put It On A T-Shirt’, is the best track of the night – an immensely catchy and optimistic post-breakup song with a sombre pace. Akin to ‘All In White’, it’s sharply crafted, with an LA poolside coolness. Playing it live they’re looking like a tight team – fresh and on top of the world.

Words: Rhys Thomas