The Vaccines

Alexandra Palace, London, November 17

Dan Dennison
Photo: Dan Dennison
Tonight’s line-up doesn’t make any sense – LA blues-rock duo Deap Vally followed by Brooklyn dream-poppers DIIV, building up to Toronto hardcore punks Fucked Up, all in support of west London’s finest indie revivalists? Sounds like someone in Camp Vaccines is having a giggle with their iPod Shuffle. But considering Justin, Arni, Freddie and Pete have built their expanding empire on young’n’dumb rock’n’roll, the weird and wonderful roll call they’ve concocted tonight is perversely brilliant. As the theory goes, it actually takes a lot of smarts to make something so simple, and this savvy selection proves the quartet are more clued up than people might give them credit for.

Deap Vally begin, exuding so much sex with their throaty blues howls and miniscule stage outfits that even Rihanna would feel nun-like in comparison. It’s raw, it’s sleazy and, considering it’s about half seven, Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards’ Black Keys-on-heat schtick draws an admirably hefty crowd. DIIV’s niche of gauzy guitarscapes and blissed-out vocals, meanwhile, is clearly not built for these surrounds. Zachary Cole Smith’s band are made for bedrooms or sweaty back rooms but, if you shut out the sound of all Ally Pally’s in-house hotdog vendors, the likes of ‘Doused’ and ‘Human’ still sound fuzzy and personal. And Fucked Up? The sight of a topless Pink Eyes storming along the barrier is probably enough to give the 14-year-olds in the front row nightmares.

Tonight is The Vaccines’ largest headline gig to date. But with a bigger show booked at the O2 Arena in May, even before they take to the stage they’ve outgrown it. This gig isn’t a climax, it’s a warm-up, and just another in a series of landmark moments the band are experiencing. It means that as they rattle through a giddily joyous ‘Teenage Icon’, the anthemic singalong of ‘Wetsuit’ and the tightly wound ‘Ghost Town’, they exude a supreme confidence so electric and tangible it sucks you right in. Then there’s ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’, a swooning ‘Aftershave Ocean’, the Clash-clatter of ‘Bad Mood’ and the standard, final fling of ‘Nørgaard’, each one fizzing with the energy of a band at the top of their game. And then they’re off, ready to trounce even more expectations.
Lisa Wright

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