Music review: The Vaccines, The O2 Arena, North Greenwich

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You know what you are getting with the Vaccines. They even spell it out in their work. The first album, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines exudes confidence, while also preparing the listener for an inevitable anti-climax, born from the hype in the wake of their first single “If you wanna.” Following it with a record entitled “Come Of Age,” they as good as invited critical reaction to their maturation and evolution as a rock band.

Two albums in three years might seem like a vertiginous climb from obscurity to rock stars, but the band’s gusto has grown mightier with each venue upgrade. In theory, this should mean that the O2 will be an overwhelming success. In truth, it is not that simple.

It all started so well. With a cheeky nod to the Beyonce tenancy which is book-ending their big night, the band walk on to “Crazy in Love” and begin with their own new pulse-raiser “No Hope”. “Wetsuit” is another early crowd stirrer, plundering emotions with its wall-of-sound celebration of youth and lamentation on the cruelty of age. The moment is rousing.

It is the new songs that suffer more. “Teenage Icon” and “All in Vain” both sound slightly messy, while non-album track “Melody Calling” plays rather incongruously with its folky undertones. There is a welcome Super Furry Animal vibe to “Aftershave Ocean”, but it is somewhat spoilt by imagining how well the SFAs would have done it themselves. At times it feels like the group are trying too hard and becoming muddled in the process.

The musical framework comes from the rallying calls of “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” and “If you wanna”, which both drive a sold-out audience of 20,000 into the sort of delirium usually witnessed at a pub brawl. These fragments of pure rock viscera still sum up the Vaccines’ appeal best - and their capacity to excite. This was evident from their first auspicious gig in 2010 and it is sporadically on show at the O2 tonight. With an upcoming supporting slot at Hyde Park for the Rolling Stones, they should learn an even more important lesson in longevity.

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