The last day of September and the space around the Melbourne Olympics Precinct was going absolutely insane already. Richmond just won their first grand final in 37 years, the drinks were flowing and tonight’s show just happened to be in Richmond. Margaret Court Arena had somewhere the Grand Final was an afterthought as British pop-rock band The Vamps were set to start festivities of their own.
Well before the doors were set to open, the lines were already at crazy lengths. It was no surprise though as it was the middle of the school holidays, a Saturday and an absolutely beautiful day to spend out and about. There were screams when the doors opened and the merch area was instantly swamped to get all the tour gear before the night’s show was set to begin.
In the arena itself it was a very different look to usual layout. The general admission area was cut short with a flat stage of seating at the end in front of the front of house and all of the fixed seating at the back curtained off. The major fans, however, were crowded and squished against the front barrier well before the support for the night hit the stage which left some fans room to sit, relax and save their energy for the night ahead.
British Pop trio New Hope Club ran on stage to screams and shouts from the crowd. It was hard to tell if they were just the support act for the night or the main headliner from the crowd’s reaction. Vocalist Reece Richardson, guitarist George Smith and bassist Reece Bibby had full control of the crowd by the second song of their set ‘Start Over,‘ having everyone clapping along. The best thing about these guys is their musical capabilities and skills instrumentally, yet lacking a drummer, instead replacing the drummer position with a backing track. The song that had the crowd loving their stuff is when the trio decided to break out a cover of Harry Style’s hit single ‘Style of the Times,’ in which everyone pulled out their phone lights and waved them back and forth while singing along. Having this much of a reaction from the crowd as a support act and only forming late 2015, it won’t be long until they have a headline tour of their own. They definitely have the coordination choreography of the traditional boy band down pat. Finishing a short 25 minute set with their single ‘Fixed,‘ it was obviously a reason why the crowd got in early as they blew the crowd away.
The moment The Vamps hit the stage, there wasn’t one person sitting in the arena. Starting their career with YouTube cover songs, they quickly gained fame in late 2012 before touring with the likes of McFly and Demi Levato while quickly being compared to the biggest British pop band of the time, One Direction. Wishing I brought earplugs from the ensuing screams from the fans, ‘Wild Heart‘ had the arena shaking below as the crowd jumped with instruction from lead vocalist Brad Simpson. It was absolutely high energy and high intensity and they were showing why they were as big as they are. Simpson even had a cheeky bend over during ‘Shades On‘ that had the girls fawning over him. It was obvious that the fans had a crush on lead guitarist James McVey with intermittent screams for him.
Draping an Australian flag across his shoulders and shouting out a, “Go Tigers!” in reference to the game earlier, Simpson asked if the fans, “Wanted things to go sexy?” as they went into ‘Hands’ from their latest album Night & Day. This was followed up by hit single ‘Somebody to You’ which had the crowd chanting “Yeah you!” singing the chorus at the top of their lungs and clapping to the beat.
After a nice little hug session wanted by the band, phone lights were pulled out once again and the mood slowed down with ‘Paper Hearts.‘ It was a much needed break for those throwing all their energy into the night. As much as there is love for guitarist McVey, bassist Connor Ball and drummer Tristan Evans, all lights were on Simpson as he threw all the emotion he could into his vocals. This continued into ‘Same to You‘ when Simpson jumped onto the keyboard, glowing under the bright white lights.
Compared to the studio albums, The Vamps’ live performances are full of excitement and are better than what is released on album. They are definitely a band that is better live than recorded. The fans are dedicated to the band to the point that as soon as the opening riff to ‘Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)’ played, the crowd were singing the opening verse without the band needing to say a word.
With many fans fighting over the towel that Simpson wiped himself down with (a little bit TOO thoroughly), they jumped into ‘Staying Up‘ in which the random beach ball was thrown around to much of the crowd’s, and band’s, enjoyment. With ‘Last Night’ closing the set before encore, that random beach ball was suddenly joined with a volley of them thrown into the crowd as the band’s 2013 party anthem was almost at a close.
The encore started with The Vamps’ debut 2013 hit single ‘Can We Dance‘ which, yet again, had the crowd singing before the band could begin. It was absolutely crazy on the floor, however, when Simpson jumped down off stage. There was a very visible surge and push in the crowd on the floor to get just that little bit closer to the lead vocalist of one of their favourite bands.
Closing the night with their most recent big hit from Night & Day, ‘All Night‘ was a loud and fun way to finish. In what could be a lot of the fans’ first ever concert, it was a night of excitement, energy, insanity and was just one big party.
The only downside with the night is with the night starting at 8:00 pm and finishing at 10:00 pm compared to the much more common time of 11:00 pm for concerts of that calibre, it felt more could have been offered especially with three albums under the band’s belt. It was a bit of a disappointment having to finish so early.