Saturday, November 26, 2022

Live review: The Vamps continue their ‘Greatest Hits’ World Tour with the second of two sold-out nights in Manchester (23/11/2022)

In celebration of ten years together, indie-pop band The Vamps take to the road, touring their greatest hits from 2012 onwards around the globe. After kicking off on November 22nd, the band will complete their UK dates before taking their music to Australia, Asia, and Europe early next year.

Dedicated fans, for whom this tour was particularly sentimental as it paid due tribute to the band’s hugely successful career so far, had been lining the streets around O2 Apollo Manchester for hours prior to the doors opening, in a bid to win a greatly coveted spot close to the stage. When the doors did finally open, a welcome relief after hours stood in the wintery weather, the energy between fans was tangible as we waited in anticipation for the show to begin.

The Vamps treated us to two support acts prior to their own performance, the first being TikTok singer-songwriter Henry Moodie. The eighteen-year-old showed no signs of nerves as he performed his original song ‘you were there for me’ whilst playing guitar, as well as a cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’, which proved a hit with the Swifties in the audience.

Then it was the turn of American alt-pop band The Aces, whose tracks ‘Daydream’ and ‘My Phone Is Trying to Kill Me’ from their 2020 album 'Under My Influence'. With their catchy instrumentals and edgy vocals by lead singer Cristal Ramirez, The Aces successfully warmed up the crowd, starting with ‘Girls Make Me Wanna Die’, which has a sound reminiscent of The Smiths. Since their formation in 2008, the band have worked tirelessly to spread their music through social media, particularly YouTube, and so their set with The Vamps may well prove to be the making of their career.

The main attraction themselves quickly followed The Aces’ performance: the lighting changed to give the audience a glimpse of the band’s silhouettes, while drummer Tristan Evans delivered an electric introduction of powerful beats which quickly led to the curtains dropping to reveal the band, and to the familiar opening of ‘Last Night’, a realisation which was of course accompanied by a rise in the excited screams of the crowd.

The setlist opened with some of the band’s older songs: ‘Last Night’, ‘Girls on TV’, ‘Rest Your Love’, and ‘Cheater’, before frontman Brad Simpson took a moment to welcome us all and express his gratitude to the fans who have supported the band over the last decade. He is without a doubt the perfect frontman; his energy, which never seemed to wane even as the setlist neared the end, and his deferential manner suit the nature of the band perfectly, and the way he interacts with fans, gesturing and speaking to them throughout the show, proves just how genuinely grateful the band are for the support they have received during their career so far.


The setlist as a whole was flawless, and was interspersed with friendly banter between bandmates and a real sense of enjoyment by the band: it was clear that they truly love what they do. Treating us to a performance of their new Christmas single ‘Seat At The Table’, dedicated to remembering loved ones who are no longer with us over the Christmas period, with a powerful piano accompaniment, Simpson admitted to getting emotional as the first lines were sung, having to take a second to collect himself before continuing.


The band also gave a stripped-back rendition of ‘Middle of the Night’, a single released back in 2017 along with Danish DJ Martin Jensen, which allowed guitarists Connor Ball and James McVey to shine as they delivered the tricky guitar riffs that characterise the song.


Speaking to the crowd right before another stripped-back performance, this time of ‘Wake Up’, whose lyrics “When you thought there was no one / I was still right here” took on a whole new meaning as they were sang so intimately between band and fans alike, Simpson said:


“To get to ten years as a band is a huge, huge thing, and I don’t mean that on our behalf, I mean that to be able to get to come back to places like this, and to get to play shows like this two nights in a row, ten years into our career… we are so unbelievably grateful for every single one of you for all of your support. […] We [The Vamps and their fans] have literally grown up together.”


The show was without a doubt one for the books; synthesising songs from their very first album 'Meet The Vamps', released when they were only in their mid-teens, right up until their 2020 album 'Cherry Blossom' which marked a shift towards a more edgy and indie sound for the band, as well as sharing a nostalgic look back at their career through a heartfelt video created by the band and their team, The ‘Greatest Hits’ World Tour proved itself to be the perfect celebration of the last ten years, and something which will be etched in the memories of the band and their fans forever.


Isobel Reeves


Image: The Official ‘Greatest Hits’ Tour Poster

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