THE VACCINES, Hard Rock Cafe – Evening Standard, 7 Nov 2012

With two giant London gigs on the way, The Vaccines appear to have left audiences of sweaty handfuls behind. Yet their punchy, hyperactive rock ‘n’ roll was perfectly suited to this tiny showcase for Absolute Radio. Glaring and baring his teeth and looking increasingly like an angry caveman beneath swathes of hair, frontman Justin Young crashed through 45 minutes of savage fun during which it became obvious that his quartet believe ballads are for wimps.

Possibly worrying that an older crowd drinking free beer with fruit in it was not his natural audience, Young urged them on with fire, providing plenty of opportunities to holler along to the shouty choruses on songs including Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra) and Norgaard. Wetsuit qualified as an epic in his world, pushing the four-minute barrier with its slow-building introduction.

Playing in a space that celebrates rock heritage was appropriate for a band that owe a lot to the greats of the past. Young mimicked Dylan’s sneering vocal on No Hope beneath a guitar belong to Bob himself. But they were never precious with the classic sounds, banging heads and pummelling instruments during the furious Bad Mood.

If the lyrics to rollicking recent single Teenage Icon suggested a man uncomfortable with being centre stage (“I’m not magnetic or mythical/I’m suburban and typical”) there was no diffidence here. With no encore and barely a backward glance, he left this tiny stage to get ready for the arenas.

Hear the gig at absoluteradio.co.uk. Nov 17, Alexandra Palace, N22 (0870 444 5556,alexandrapalace.com); May 2, O2 Arena, SE10 (0871 984 0002, theO2.co.uk)

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