Leeds 2016: Five Things We Learned From The Vaccines’ Show

‘English Graffiti’ has revitalised this band

It’s easy to forget now, but there was a lot riding on the release of The Vaccines’ third album last summer: following the well-received but hardly game-changing ’Come Of Age’, would they go the all-too-familiar route of diminishing returns, or did this band have something more in the tank? In the end, it’s turned out rather well for them: ‘English Graffiti’ wasn’t giving Adele sleepless nights, but it’s given The Vaccines a new lease of life, broadening the band’s sonic palette whilst still sounding indefinably ‘them’. They open with a frenetic ‘Handsome’ tonight, but it’s songs like ‘Minimal Affection’ and the monolithic space-glam swagger of ‘Dream Lover’ – songs that sound nothing like The Vaccines of old – that really stand out.

…But the old songs haven’t worn out their welcome

With ‘English Graffiti’, The Vaccines may have emerged from the shadow of their 2011 debut, but that record can still be relied upon to win over large festival crowds as and when they need to – see the sun-kissed bliss of ‘All In White’, the frenzied ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra) or the seemingly-deathless ‘Post Break-Up Sex’, a song nobody ever seems to tire of.

There’s life after drummer Pete

The announcement that drummer Pete Robertson had quit the band back in June came as something of a shock, and while he was never the most outgoing member of the group, it’s still slightly strange seeing them onstage without him – he was, after all, a key ingredient of The Vaccines’ last-gang mentality. This is one of their first British post break-up sets (sorry) without Robertson, so naturally all eyes are on his replacement – Spector sticksman Yoann Intonti – who, happily, sounds like he’s been occupying the stool for years.

There’s no new material… yet


“We’re really just starting now,” Justin Young told NME back in February when asked about the progress of the next Vaccines album. “There’s always been an ambition with this band to be better every time we make a new record and push ourselves. Nobody could accuse us of making the same record twice.” Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear anything from it this evening – which isn’t entirely surprising, since they’ve just had to replace a founding member, and their tour is just two dates from completion. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer…

Melody Calling is the greatest Vaccines song (discuss)

“Alright, Leeds – a love song now, and then some Friday night music to wake you up,” is how frontman Justin Young introduces ‘Melody Calling’, a song snuck out on a between-albums EP back in 2013 that’s happily become a fixture of their sets. It absolutely deserves to be, too: from Freddie Cowan’s buoyant, Johnny Marr-esque guitar riff to the chorus’ sun-kissed bliss, it is – for our money – the best song The Vaccines have ever written.