Not quite as much of a shock as England tearing through the old enemy before lunch today, but a shock nonetheless, was Friday’s headline performance by the heavily criticised (not least by me) Vaccines. I’ve been made to eat my words before with Jake Bugg and after a terrific set from the West London band, I was left red-faced and pleasantly surprised again. The pretentious King’s College London History graduate Justin Young fronted a band that despite that said pretentiousness were nowhere near as underwhelming as I expected. Handsome was the opener, it paired up with Wreckin’ Bar to form an energetic beginning to the first proper night of Kendal Calling 2015.
Wetsuit, batting at 5, threatened to dampen the mood but enthusiasm was upheld by a crowd that was densely littered by teenagers who were mid-teen upon their rise around 4 years ago. Their new album is underwhelming though, there aren’t many who can argue that with a good case, and the songs from it that did feature were always going to be tough to deliver and tougher to receive. You could say they played and missed (I’ll stop now).
The will still be cynics from the audience on Friday night, but less so than before their set. The Vaccines are hardly world-beaters, or at the level many predicted of them when they first burst onto the scene, but they’re hanging on in there when it comes to the studio (just), and live performances like this will help. All In White the anthemic and papal hit that stays dreary until crescendoing into a spectacular penultimate chorus. The longest song from their debut ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’.
The highlight? Justin’s spotless acoustic solo of No Hope, almost spoken and entirely enthralling it made a festival crowd feel like a front room. Saying that, they’re touring in the US right now until September when they travel through Europe, so their front rooms are probably quite big now. They travelled to Mexico City from Penrith and played there on Monday, not to mention travelling to Penrith from Sydney where they played on the Tuesday – talk about seeing the sights. They’ve got a UK tour in November as well, where the final three of I Always Knew, If You Wanna and Nørgaard will have to appear again. Finishing how they started with a rapturous energy they asserted themselves as not only the most unexpectedly enjoyable act of the weekend but one of the best all together. How’s that?