REVIEW gig The Vamps O2 London 13 May 2017

A Band With Time On Their Side

The O2 was buzzing with conversation and excitement on Saturday night as 16,000 fans – mostly teenage girls along with accompanying parents – turned up to see The Vamps. Before the headliners took the stage, however, there were no less than three warm up acts.

First up were The Tide a band from Los Angeles who are signed to The Vamps own label. From the tough raw sound they might have got themselves a winner as the young guys have at least one track, ‘Put The Cuffs On me’ that has the potential to be huge.

Next were New Hope Club, a McFly style band who mixed guitars and a good blend of voices with a confident professionalism that belied their youth – none of the trio are over 18 – and good looks that the majority of the audience really reacted to. The screams from the audience, especially when playing ‘Fixed’ which a number of girls were already word perfect on, indicated that this group could be set for a big breakthrough before long. The reaction reminded me of one I saw for The Wanted before their first single hit the charts.

The final support act was Sabrina Carpenter who played Maya Hart in ‘Girl Meets World’ on Disney channel. She has a voice that filled the O2 and a superb range and clarity that marks her out as a real talent. Live, she also has bags of stage presence and she harmonises beautifully with her sister Sarah who provides the backing vocals. For me, in terms of singing, no one could touch her on Saturday.

‘Smoke and fire’, in particular, was an excellent track with sultry vocals that you don’t often hear in someone of 18. Sadly for her, the audience weren’t particularly receptive and the atmosphere dipped when she went through her set. Here, though, she showcased her ability to adapt and remain unfazed. Halfway through ‘Eyes Wide Open’, her first single, she switched to a cover of Bruno Mars ‘That’s What I Like’ to get the audience back on side. This, more than anything else, tells me that this is one singer that is just going to continue to improve and develop.

Headliners The Vamps showed the benefits of five years in the music business with a slick, entertaining show that a large number of the parents seemed to enjoy alongside their children. Every song was accompanied by screams from an audience that seemed word perfect on every single one. Older songs like ‘Cecilia’ and ‘Can We Dance’ got huge reactions as you would expect, but new songs such as ‘Hands’ and the really effective ballad ‘Paper Heart’ showed a band that is developing and becoming one with real staying power.

Sabrina Carpenter got another chance to showcase her ability on ‘Somebody to You’ and ‘Hands’ where she duetted with lead singer Bradley Simpson, and got the ovation she had deserved for her solo set.

Simpson’s vocals were excellent whether tackling heavier tracks or ballads, Tristan Evans was a powerhouse on the drums and James McVey on lead and Connor Ball on bass were both superb throughout the set. ‘Time Is Not On Our Side’ in particular showed the quartet as a really talented set of musicians whose strengths perfectly complement each other. In the music industry many bands, especially those characterised as boy bands, can lose their fan base very quickly. The Vamps’ energy and professionalism should ensure that this is one band that doesn’t happen to.