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Vines - London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 4th November 2002

  by Jonjo McNeill

published: 22 / 11 / 2002

Vines - London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 4th November 2002


The latest object of the NME's unfaltering love, Australia's the Vines have been attracting enormous critical interest. Jonjo McNeill at an sometimes lacklustre show in London is not totally convinced by the hype

The latest object of the NME's unfaltering love, the Vines shot out of Australia last year to huge critical interest. Most of this interest focused on oddball frontman Craig Nicholls who, when not writing three minute grunge pop classics, spends his time falling over, smoking pot and running screaming into drum kits. So here we are in November 2002, at the Empire in Shepherds Bush, to finally find out what all the hype's been about. An excellent debut album ('Highly Evolved') and soon-to-be legendary tales of excess and destruction on their recent US tour has meant all three of the Vines' London shows sold out within hours of their announcement. Support act the Bandits go down well enough with their organ led power pop, but you can feel the anticipation in the packed out auditorium. The kids are here for Craig, and they can't wait. The lights dim and the Smiths' 'How Soon Is Now' blares through the PA. As the outro guitar fades, the stage lights go up and on come our Antipodean friends. To roars from the mainly teenage crowd, Nicholls' guitar exudes the most deafeningly perfect feedback, and the band kicks in with former single 'Outtathaway'. Normally a storming yet teasingly short blast and one of their finest moments, tonight something important seems to be missing. On the recordings, the rockier moments are constructed from two composite vocal parts from Nicholls - the basic melody sung in his excellent voice, and a screaming refrain. Here though, without the benefit of overdubs, we are treated merely to the latter. This is a let down as the songs seem less structured, like a major part of them is missing (which of course it is). The energy is clearly there, and some of the tunes played tonight are amazing. 'Mary Jane', 'Factory', and their excellent cover version of Outkast's 'Ms. Jackson' all get the crowd in a lather, and Nicholls' onstage persona is incredible. He seems genuinely insane. Playing his guitar whilst rotating it round his head, tripping over but remaining perfectly in time, and of course the obligatory jump into the drumkit all show him to be a natural born rock and roll star. As for the rest of the band, however, they just don't do anything. They play their parts well enough, but with Nicholls to one side as opposed to in centre-stage, the rhythm section really needs to look more interested. A good show then, but not a great show. On the journey home I found myself repeating the words "don't believe the hype'" Craig Nicholls, without a doubt, is a star. A genius even. But tonight The Vines looked jaded and uninterested. Maybe it's time for a break to recoup some of the energy shown in the past, although with Craig Nicholls around, there won't be much chance of any peace.

Picture Gallery:-
Vines - London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 4th November 2002

Vines - London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 4th November 2002

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Highly Evolved (2002)
Impressive,if flawed much hyped debut album from Australia's the Vines
Get Free (2002)

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