The Vaccines: Tokyo – live review

The Vaccines
Shibuya-Ax, Tokyo
January 17th 2013
live review

All photos by katie Clare

The commercial and alternative aspects of music aren’t often natural partners, in fact those that try to pair the two often face derision from supporters of each camp, it does not have to be this way, rare as they maybe there are artists whom continually intertwine these foes making the contradictions and conflicts between them seem like flirtatious melees. Since their last headlining gig in Tokyo The Vaccines have released their sophomore album and conquered where exceptional few triumph marrying stimulating indie rock, emotive poetic lyricism with celebratory pop pandemonium and while they’ve always been electrifying live, be it confidence or an increased volume of experience, they have also become quite the beasts on stage mastering the art of show and ego to work alongside their extraordinarily sublime and expanding musical catalogue.

The crowd like the venue has increased in size and the vocal appreciations of the audience can’t go unnoticed as the band strides on stage. Pete powers up that heart pounding urgency of a drum beat as they throw themselves into No Hope, the crowd ecstatically physical and with the choral participation intensifying: like debris we are cyclonically propelled through Wreckin Bar and Tiger Blood as we land at the feet of A Lack of Understanding bodies suck in energized heated oxygen as Justin laments, hypnotising as raptured eye’s burn and eager lips synchronize his questioning debate “Are you ready, are you ready, are you ready for this? Should I shake your hand or should I give you a kiss?’ As he lurches and catapults himself around the stage Justin leaks the very essence of what he denies “I’m no teenage icon” he sings “Reserved and shy your average guy, No piercing stare, Just out of shape with messy hair but, I always figured I was somebody” Their self-effacing, abashed yet defiant and bold is defiantly that Vaccines antithesis in effect – a fusion of opposites.

While there is an energetic and genuine passion for the Come of Age tracks it is undeniable the emotional attachment and individual affection for the old guard. Post Break Up Sex charges the air with neon filled explosions, Freddie can barely stay on stage as he extends himself and his guitar forward to the outstretched arms, fingers a whisper away from a touch and he’s off bounding back to Pete’s drum stand displaying a huge grin, his eyes glinting with mischief.

The set is faultlessly industrious, the band seemingly tireless All in White, Change of Heart pt2 followed by Blow it Up. Arni is the most engaged and emotive I’ve seen live, his bass work a cohesion of strength and tenderness; along with Pete they create a solid, potent and unbreakable foundation. There is little banter between the songs; keeping the ebullience at an apex I Always Knew and If You Wanna bring the first part of the show to a close.

As the  screams and shouts for an encore reach frenzy it’s clear that their creativity combined with the almost obliviousness nature the band have for the powerful effect they have on their audience, not an ounce of which is contrived but simply honest adds to how right their success is deserved. However its bitter sweet as the venues and crowd get bigger it serves to amplify the paradox: we want the world to know to feel this energy – to experience this euphoria – we just don’t want them all there on the same night. As the triple encore set finales with Nørgaard there is nothing but palpable elation in the room as we head out in to the snow covered streets and star less black sky we know we may never again see The Vaccines in as intimate surroundings but it’s not bringing anyone down, because tonight, we just did.

Read an in depth interview with the Vaccines here and see a couple of other photo’s from the gig below the byline.

The Vaccines website is here. They can also be found on Facebook here and Twitter.

All words by Katie Clare. More of Katie’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at her author archive here.

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