The Vaccines - The Sands Centre, Carlisle

Two pint glasses - is this something you big city types have had for years? They seem very troublesome. Not as troublesome as the stomach contents someone saw fit to spill right in the centre of the hall. Full marks to the Sands Centre staff though - a mop in the hands of a pro can be a beautiful thing.

The success of Tame Impala would suggest there's an opportunity for a British band to secure some of that full on psychedelic dollar but it's not clear that Toy are necessarily the ones to do it. The constituent parts appear in place (the hair would never past muster on the parade ground) but they fall back too easily on one chord - sometimes two - extended codas that are fun to play (Hey! We've all been in teenage garage bands, right?) but dull to watch unless carefully managed. Toy can't get past the first song without immediately showing their hand - and they repeat the trick another couple of times in a five song set. There are shavings of House of Love when they remember to play a song, but they're closer in reality to Terry Bickers' post-HoL band Levitation.

The gaping chasm between support band status and the headliners is played out when their guitarist breaks a string half way though their penultimate number. With no tech crew of their own, he disappears backstage to find another guitar, eventually returning to catch the remaining bars of the final track. This is not a problem The Vaccines will face. With a road crew of Polyphonic Spree proportions, if a drumstick is dropped or a towel needs wrangling, there will be a man - and they're all men - to hand.

You already know how TV ply their trade. That nagging doubt that their rise to the top of British indie-dom has resulted more by paucity of competition than any particular magnificence has never really gone away, and yet here they are. Second album Come of Age, already a staple of 2-for-£10 deals - although what isn't these days - did nothing to dent their marketability. A post-Glastonbury set couch moment with Edith Bowman is certainly more predictible than the weather will be.

If the between-band playlist is meant to give any clues about where The Vaccines go next (Fugazi, The Glitter Band), it's misleading. One new track is rolled out and requires Justin Young to strap on an acoustic. 'Melody Calling' is ... different. Quite mid-80s pop in terms of presentation, it verges on the kind of thing you imagine might lurk on side two of a Climie Fisher or Cutting Crew (ask your Mum) album.

Everyone loves 'the hits' and none of the lesser material hangs around long enough to annoy. That hint of The Killers in 'A Lack of Understanding' helps it stand out from their staple bubblegum punk pop. There would be worse places to go, commercially or artistically. Justin doesn't think they've played Carlisle before (they have - for Radio 1's Big Weekend) but promises to come back sometime. They play a Wreckless Eric song, proving they're likable, decent kids at heart and bash through all 90 seconds of 'Norgard' as if for the first time to round things out. If people have come simply to be entertained, they've had their money's worth.

That lack of competition, that absence of acts justifying headline status is a real thing. But it's not The Vaccines' problem. They appear to be having fun, understand if you put a bit of effort in, throw a few shapes and deliver a clutch of simple, memorable songs, people will pay to see you. Which is good - the wage bill must be terrible.

Latest Articles