'You want the voice of a generation?' - The Vaccines, Leeds 02 Academy, 26/11/2011

by - Sunday, November 27, 2011

Following a slight set back in the form of crossed wires concerning press passes* and ‘compulsory guest list donations’ (which The Vaccines kindly donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Society), I had a feeling that tonight at Leeds academy was not going to be kind upon my student budget. Luckily for me, the evening was worth every penny.

Taking to the stage just after half 7, Minneapolis five piece Howler may be the only international band on the bill, but they certainly held their own. Their first few songs did seem to owe a little too much to The Strokes, especially when coupled with lead singer Jordan Gatesmith’s leathers and Casablancas esque slurred vocals. However, he wasn’t voted NME’s 45th coolest person for nothing; whilst he moves around little on stage, he does exude a certain level of enigmatic nonchalance. New single Back Of Your Neck is an obvious highlight, the soundtrack to a punch up in a 50’s diner complete with beach boys harmonies, that is just enough to bring them into more original territory.

Frankie & The Heartstrings
Frankie & The Heartstrings do not fair quite as well, despite putting on a show that has come on leaps and bounds since their appearances at this summer’s festivals. Tighter than ever, with powerhouse Dave Harper on drums (looking oddly like Matt Helder’s hardman brother), the shimmering indie disco of Ungrateful and That Postcard seem to fall surprisingly flat under the circumstances, the youthful crowd at this 14+ gig clearly not ready to play ball. Whilst much of the audience respond to Frankie Francis’ leg shaking and microphone maracas with casual indifference, one audience member makes his feelings more concisely felt by shouting ‘you’re awful’, which the vocalist politely ignores, launching instead into their biggest hit ‘Hunger’ with a look of grim determination on his face. Luckily for them, they finally get the reaction they so rightly deserve, with the tracks irresistible Supergrass style charm causing smiles to unfurl on even the hippest of faces.

The Vaccines

The Vaccines in comparison, have won the war before they’ve even played the battle. Within mere seconds of them strolling on stage to the tune of The Ramones Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio? (what else?), the crowd is hollering and baying for blood, the ‘lad’ quota in extreme evidence. Opener Blow It Up, chased by Wreckin Bar, causes my hair to make unpleasant acquaintance with a full pint of cider as limbs flail, friends embrace and all sense of decorum is thrown to the wind. Fasten your seatbelts, for we are witnessing a rock n roll show.

A far cry away from his previous incarnation as highly talented but little known folk troubadour Jay Jay Pistolet, Justin Young is settling into his new found stardom well. He smiles knowingly throughout and looks toward the front rows often, clearly enjoying the power he has to make teenage girls (and boys for that matter) hang on to his every word. Their set benefits exponentially due to the addition of new material, which upon first listen appears to be very much vintage Vaccines fare, but with the ante upped on lyrics. One track in particularly contains the line ‘You want the voice of a generation/ but I'm too self-absorbed to give it’, an interesting nod to the level of stardom they have achieved so rapidly over the past year. Perhaps their touring partnership with Arctic Monkeys is beginning to rub off on them, for it seems The Vaccines are fast approaching the height of success.

*with thanks to Nick at Cool Delta for sorting it out for us, much appreciated!
Photography by Charlotte Hanson & Jenessa Williams

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