REVIEW: The Vaccines – Limelight, Belfast

thevaccines‘We are The Vaccines, back at The Limelight’ were the words triumphantly announced by Justin Hayward-Young, lead singer of The Vaccines, as they took to the stage on Wednesday night.

To a near sold out venue, the band played a 21 song packed, 80 minutes.

Before this, support came in the form of Pleasure Beach. The much hyped, Belfast based 5 piece describe themselves as ‘Dream Pop’ and are quickly making waves on the local scene as well as further afield with their live shows as well as the recent release of their first EP – ‘Dreamer to the Dawn’.

Having only played their first gig together a matter of months previous to this you would forgive them for not looking like a truly polished act. The reality is that their mix of synths, guitar and on point vocals from all 5, made for a rousing intro to the night.

Starting their half hour, 6 track slot with the title track of their EP, Pleasure Beach soon introduced themselves to the crowd and made it known what they are all about. Spread across the front of the stage the sometimes star gazing, sometimes shoe gazing band seemed to hit the right cords with the gathering audience.

The mix of the sound of the 80’s coming from the synths, the hint of gloom at the core of the songs as well as their ‘coming of age’ sound seemed to go down well with the crowd.

Finishing on their big tune of ‘Go’, this fast paced, pop infused, catchy sing a long really got the crowd’s attention.

With 2 headline gigs in Dublin & Belfast, planned for early next year as well as a support slot with the mighty Jape later this week, this is truly a reflection of the ambition and appeal of this band so early in their journey.


Without much delay it was time for The Vaccines. ‘What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?’, is the first album from the tonight’s main attraction. It is also a question; I and most likely many of the sizeable crowd from tonight’s Belfast audience are asking themselves. The Vaccines, now promoting their third album, ‘English Graffiti’ have moved from centre on their previous sound of which identified themselves as the reflective rock teen angst ambassadors but would this impact their well-known and renowned live performance?

Starting off their set with the track, ‘Handsome’, from the new album, the audience were raring to go. By the time the second track, ‘Teenage Icon’ was played, it was clear that they were at fever pitch.

Wetsuit’ was clearly a fan favourite as Young asked for the audiences help in singing it as he nursed a sore throat. The crowd willingly accepted as the rest of the band passed around the Buckfast.

The Vaccines continued through their set, mixing in songs from all 3 albums, including ‘Coming of Age’. Whilst older established tracks went down better, it would be fair to say that all tracks were well received. ‘Wolf Pack’ and ‘Bad Mood’ were played before the anthemic ‘Post Break Up Sex’ drew a large cheer from the crowd. Newer songs such as ‘In Love’ and in particular ‘Give Me a Sign’ were treated as old classics and again displayed the shift in the music the bad are creating.

Given the number of songs that were squeezed into a relatively short set, it is no surprise that it was fast paced and frantic. The intro to ‘Wreckin Bar’ again had the crowd at a peak with some mini mosh pits appearing before one of the biggest sing a long hits they have in the form of ‘If You Wanna’.

Nearing the end of the show, Young made the clichéd move of announcing this as the best show of the tour. However he can be forgiven for this as his rapport and interaction with the crowd was of rock star quality. The chemistry the band has together made them very watchable as they have honed their live performance over the past 5 years.

Previously hailed as saviours of guitar music, it would be have been hard to argue that compliment with anyone watching this performance.

The night was rounded up by a 3 track encore, the first track of which was an acoustic solo version of ‘No Hope’ by Young. The band finished on the ever popular ‘Norgaard’.

With a set peppered with songs old and new, The Vaccines have been able to maintain their core sound while at the same time maturing at their song writing. The impact of this has been that they have maintained their fan base while making new fans. Whilst the question of what to expect from The Vaccines has been answered, a more interesting question might be, what next for The Vaccines? A move to arena gigs and further up the festival line ups, may only be a couple of hits away.