The Vaccines' return to Australia was warmly received by fans

Three years was far too long to wait for another Vaccines gig.

Image source: 
Sarah Rix

The Vaccines got a hometown heroes welcome as they sauntered onto the Croxton stage to Queen’s classic 'I Want To Break Free'. It’s been three years since the English band last toured Australia, with singer Justin Young bellowing out that we’ve been missed. It was clear to see why – the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm for a singalong didn't relent throughout the show.

Young was animated and jovial, introducing us to his trademark wide-eyed stare during opening song 'Your Love Is My Favourite Band'. He owned every corner of the stage before picking up his guitar for a searing version of 'Teenage Icon', following on with 'I Always Knew' which had lead guitarist Freddie Cowan’s impressive fretwork stealing focus.

The sultry tones of 'Dream Loverwere complemented by washing the stage in red and the first clap along of many for the night. It was during 'Wetsuit' that the crowd were at their loudest, proving the song’s impact eight years on from release is still strong. Tracks off their debut album What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? were the most popular of the gig, with things taking a turn for the rowdy during 'Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)'. Young seemed aware of this too, introducing 'Post Break-Up Sexas “an oldie but a goodie”. 'Norgaard', a song which fetishises a 17-year-old girl should probably stay in 2011, however.

After the nostalgia trip, the band played a suite of songs off their 2018 album Combat Sports. The shift in style was clear when you compare these songs to the more guitar-driven tracks off their debut, but a song like 'I Can’t Quit' still possesses The Vaccines’ undeniable gift for melody. The band also aired newer track 'Jump Off The Top', an upbeat, instantly catchy song that hints to another hit single.

The pairing of tracks 'Handsome' and 'No Hope' offered two different sides to the band; the latter is a cocksure tale presented in a mocking tone, while the former is a self-aware anthem for the alienated that shows the band are in fact sincere and relatable, albeit existentially spent. Ironically it was during this song, while singing at the top of your lungs with hundreds of other people that there’s “desperately no hope”, that it feels like there might just be some hope after all.

The night reached its emotional climax during 'Family Friendwhich closed the main set in spectacular fashion. Naturally, the crowd begged for an encore which the band gladly delivered, launching into 'Put It On A T-Shirtand 'Nightclub'.

The final song of the night, All In White, started as one of the more subdued moments of the night before building up to its rousing chorus. It was the perfect note to end on and as the crowd dispersed there was definitely a feeling that we witnessed something special. While they may not be packing out stadiums here in Australia, The Vaccines’ energy and repertoire of anthems translated to a must-see live show that won’t be forgotten soon.

Highlight: The singalong during 'Wetsuit'.

Lowlight: Having a person spilling beer all over me.

Crowd favourite: The single lighter that went up for Family Friend.