Published on 16 May 2023 at 11:53

Cover photo Credited to Max Nicoll - Plastic Factory

By Jozef Kostecki


Despite not taking to the stage since September of last year, 2023 has certainly already had its moments for The Vaccines. Work wrapped on their upcoming sixth album, the band have been booked for festivals from Brighton to Benidorm, and founding member Freddie Cowan went public with his decision to leave the band. 


There was no malice, no ill will, no breakup, no bad blood, ultimately life goes on and so have The Vaccines. But, with their first festival date of the Summer approaching as the headliner for Day 1 of this weekend’s ‘Tunes in the Dunes’ festival, the band took it back to their roots returning to London for a surprise show at the Sebright Arms, and one hell of a pre-festival warm-up gig. The pub setting meant that just 150 tickets were up for grabs, all of which were swept up in a matter of moments, ensuring a full capacity for the band’s return to their home city.  


Photo Credited to Max Nicoll - Plastic Factory


Support was provided by another one of the capital’s finest, with Chilli Jesson and his excellent band being handed the task of warming up the crowd. It was a stage Chilli himself had played on many moons ago, and ahead of The Vaccines’ appearance, it was a stage he and his band managed to make their own in the time offered to them. Playing several songs that Justin of The Vaccines had a hand in co-writing, Chilli and co’s set would have been absolutely justified as the main act, but in their role as the support they used every moment offered to leave the best possible impression they could on the crowd placed in front of them. 


When The Vaccines finally took to the stage, they wasted no time reminding the audience just why they have been a staple of the British music scene for all of these years. It was an audience that wanted to dance and have a good time, and maybe even shed a tear if the moment called for it, so the band made sure they offered up the finest selections from their impressive discography to allow that to be so.


The bulk of the setlist was designed to get the crowd moving, from 2018’s indescribably catchy All My Friends Are Falling in Love, the band’s upcoming single Heartbreak Kid, to classics like Wreckin’ Bar and Teenage Icon that have stood the test of the time and then some. It is a credit to the bands' consistency that they have succeeded in crafting a live show that has such impact, whilst allowing songs from all of their major releases to feel right at home in any setlist they put out.


Photo Credited to Max Nicoll - Plastic Factory


Wetsuit and All in White from the band’s platinum-certified debut album may just have managed to bring out some bottled-up emotions from a few audience members, but that’s okay. To Hell with it, we’re all getting a bit older, but let’s just enjoy it, because it can’t get much better than this anyway. 


Last playing at the pub back in 2019 under an alias, it was a triumphant return for one of London’s own. Joined by Matthew Hitt of Drowners fame as part of the live band, the group powered through a fourteen-song set of tracks old, new and somewhere in between, all of which were lapped up by the 150-capacity crowd


If you were to listen to the live version of Wetsuit from The Vaccines 2011 ‘Live in London’ release on Spotify you would hear lead singer Justin Young talk about how London bands often never feel like they have a hometown show. I can’t speak on if he feels the same over a decade later, but what I can say is this. Having a show after five albums, over thirteen years as a band, with members of the audience and band alike both new and old from those first shows, back in a pub where it all began. It matters. Having a support band made up of friends who have seen your journey as a band, who play their set, watch yours, and then stay around for a few beers after. It matters. Things like these aren’t easily forgotten, and it means the most to those that were lucky enough to be in attendance. 


Photo Credited to Max Nicoll - Plastic Factory


The fact is nobody forced The Vaccines at this stage in their career to play to 150 people in a pub that they’ve not played in as ‘The Vaccines’ since 2012, and truth be told after all their success they didn’t need to either. But they still did it. They turned up, played fourteen songs, tore the house down, and gave every single person in attendance something they will never forget. And really, when you boil it down that’s all you can ever want from a night of live music as a fan, and that’s all you should really need to get from a night of live music as a band.