A love of music starts somewhere. Many of us can attest to that; normally a passion for a certain band or style of music develops in our younger years. Huddled around records, around CD players, around itunes and spotify and youtube, our music tastes begin to shape. As we grow and mature so do our tastes in music, or at least hopefully they do.
Many go from adoration of generic pop to exploration in other genres, or at least that was my journey. NSYNC was my first toe dip into the pool of music, and from there came the slow maturation into the love of multiple streams of music. Why does this all matter? It some ways it may not, except that as we mature in our tastes sometimes we forget where we started. We forget finding that one band who just got us, we forget the late nights huddled around new releases, the genuine joy and ecstatic pleasure that came from blasting your favourite song in the back of mom’s car. We forget the purity of loving each minute detail of a band. We forget this, until you are plunged full force into a youth pop oriented world that smacks you with nostalgia. The Vamps, a pop group with ties to Birmingham, was this smack in the face for many. The purely pop band played an incredible show at the Genting Arena that drove the teenagers wild, and made the rest of us remember why we fell in love with music.
The air was full of youthful exuberance and cheap cologne, lots and lots of cheap cologne. The giddy youth talked quickly and excitedly about the night’s festivities. Three bands opened the show. California based boy band The Tide, UK band New Hope Club, and singer-actress Sabrina Carpenter all played short sets before the main event. Each opening act increased the energy and anticipation in the room. Then after two hours of waiting and openers the lights dimmed, and a video played. It played for about 15 minutes, wetting the appetite with messages from the guys and visuals from the tour. The stage blacked, blue lasers flashed, pyrotechnics flared, and “Wake Up” streamed through the speakers. The Vamps had arrived, and they arrived in style. As the band played their first song the shrills from the fans around was ear shattering, but the elation was special. No one seemed to notice that the massive stage was barely filled by the four boys, they where merely focused on the pop tinged tune dripping from the boys lips. Drum driven “Wild Heart” keeps the energy high. Through the song the lads leave the shelter of the main stage and traverse to the W shaped stage, reaching every corner of the arena.
The energy is electric, and as the boys sip tea and chat with fans opener Sabrina comes on stage. Joining together, songs “Hands” and “Somebody to You” are reshaped to fit the female voice. Both songs continue that pop perfection that has come to be the staple of The Vamps sound. Light hearted and repetitive, the songs are youthful and fun. “Paper Hearts” is preceded by a promo video for the new album. With too many songs to pick from, The Vamps have decided on a double release or two albums. Along with this there are four versions of the album, each having different bonus materials. So parents who not only dolled out a decent amount of money for the concert tickets could now be faced with buying multiple copies of the albums. It’s a brilliant tool all in the name of musical love!
“Paper Hearts” is the first slow tempo song, giving parents a breath and time to recover after hearing about all the new albums they will have to buy. The relaxed atmosphere does not last for long, the band launches into dance tune “Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)” and “Shades On,” the arena vibrating from the jumping and dancing. A cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” comes next. The song is crafted in a way that it samples numerous other pop songs, giving nod to the bands Youtube beginnings. An impressive drum solo is followed by new tune “Time Is Not On Our Side” and new single “Middle of the Night.” In a stream of pyrotechnics the song has a big presence visually. Sonically it is a pop EDM mashup that has become a familiar genre on the radio. “Last Night” and “Can We Dance” round out the night, while “Rest Your Love” and “All Night” shower the encore in sparkly pop splendour.
The Vamps are the pop boy band of this generation. While they are genuinely talented musicians they also are filling the boy band niche in the market. At the Genting Arena they played their hearts out, it was after all a hometown show for two of the members. The show was bright and brilliant, dripping in ecstatic adoration and glitz. For the youth in the audience it was a night to remember, except for the boy in front of me who was clearly dragged by his sister and spent the night playing a game on his phone. For parents it was a nostalgic reflection on the powers of music in our youth and the excitement that comes from seeing a band for the first time.
Musical love and an appreciation for music starts at places like these, with bands like The Vamps. The Vamps put on a purely electric show; in all its boy band pop perfection The Vamps wowed fans and turned the hearts and emotions of every person sitting or standing in the Genting Arena. That, my friends, is how you do a hometown show.
Reviewer: Kylie McCormick
Photographer: Chris Bowley