Part of a well-intentioned inquiry from the Music Venue Trust and the National Lottery, The Vaccines took to the stage at Bedford Esquires. Roisin Hickey reviews.
Having recently released their fifth studio album Back in Love City, The Vaccines have been touring around grassroot music venues as part of a collaboration between Music Venue Trust and the National Lottery. This initiative aims to bring one-off gigs to music venues that, under normal circumstances, would not get these special performances. Having gone through the pandemic, we can all see the value in this initiative in moving forward and getting back to the things we love with our friends and communities. The National Lottery supports the artists and crews to get to these smaller venues to help us music lovers get back to doing what we love to do! If the initiative does not already sound like a winner, those who bought a ticket could bring a mate for free-under the condition that you buy a lottery ticket from the National Lottery. Who knew you could hit the jackpot like this?
In a very cramped room in Bedford, I found myself front row with The Vaccines (no, this is not a euphemism for the Covid-19 Vaccine roll out). For those not familiar with The Vaccines, they are an English indie rock band, made up of Justin Young (guitar and vocals), Freddie Cowan (guitar and vocals), Árni Árnason (bass), Timothy Lanham (keyboard) and Yoann Intonti (drums). The warm-up act was an Icelandic Indie duo called BSÍ. Having done some research prior to the gig, I noticed they only had about 3,500 subscribers on Spotify, so the fact that they were touring with the Vaccines was an incredible way to get their name out in venues around the UK.
''The lyrics are black and white despite the breezy melodies and synth''
BSÍ offered a unique-riot-lo-fi-surf-indie vibe and were a great start to the gig. They played Feela það (Feel it), had a punk/riot feel, and definitely got the crowd going. Other songs featured, such as My knee against Kyriarchy, which is pretty revolutionary by virtue of the title- are we no longer fighting patriarchy but now kyriarchy? Although there is no overbearing sense of punk and anarchy in their music, the lyrics are black and white despite the breezy melodies and synth. They ended with Vesturbæjar Beach. Listening to this song in the crowd made me feel as if I was by the beach as it had a dreamy, surf-indie-pop vibe to it.
There are definitely big things to come for this band. They have some bangers on their latest EP …But always antifascist. It begs the question of whether we are to have a new wave of politically fuelled music and maybe a new wave of punk from Iceland?
Storming the stage came the Vaccines themselves. There was a complete change in the dynamic of the room. Many of us had faced the torrential rain that graced Bedford town before the gig, so in a damp and cramped Esquires, The Vaccines began their tour of Bedford with Wanderlust. A song from their newest album Back in Love City, it gave the crowd the burst of energy they needed. With a clear cut message of anarchy, the crowd knew that this was going to be a great gig. It was possibly the first time back to a live venue or gig for many there since restrictions had lifted. Playing Wanderlust helped everyone stretch out their legs and get their bodies into the centre to mosh.
If you wanna followed, which is from their debut album, What did you expect from The Vaccines?. The familiarity of their older songs and others like Post-Break up Sex and I Always Knew helped keep the crowd's momentum going. Equally, intertwining newer songs such as Handsome from their album English Graffiti and I Can't Quit from Combat Sports meant that no matter when you came to fall in love with The Vaccines, there was a song for everyone at the gig.
''It was a brilliant way to introduce some new music to the town''
The Vaccines know how to lower, then raise the vibrations of a crowd. They effectively did this by placing El-Paso (one of the slower, dreamier songs on their new album) before XCT, which just feels like a full-on explosion when it gets to the chorus, and this is supported wholeheartedly by Yoann Intonti on the drums.
Having just left the stage, it was not long (a mere two seconds) before the crowd began cheering the band on for an encore. Starting off with Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra), which is where it all started for the Vaccines with it being their debut single, it really felt fitting for such a song to be part of this special gig. Finally, the band ended with All in White which slowed the pace down again. Again a brilliant way to end the gig with a timeless classic from The Vaccines.
Overall, it was a brilliant gig that really did bring the people of Bedford, and I'm sure those further afield, together. Bedford does not get big bands like The Vaccines. Again it must be acknowledged that for such a small town, it was a brilliant way to introduce some new music to the town, and of course be with friends in a music venue.
Written by: Roisin Hickey
Edited by: Amrit Virdi