REVIEW: Vamps back with a bang in Sheffield

The Vamps performing on the opening night of the 2017 tour in Sheffield. Picture: Robin Burns.
The Vamps performing on the opening night of the 2017 tour in Sheffield. Picture: Robin Burns.
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The Vamps kicked off their latest tour in a Sheffield Arena full of screaming teenage girls.

They may not be the coolest band, but it’s hard not to enjoy four lads clearly having the time of their life on the stage.

Think a cross between Busted and One Direction and you won’t be far off. Although the quartet of frontman Brad Simpson, guitarist James McVey, bassist Connor Ball and drummer Tristan Evans supposedly don’t like the term boyband – they write their own songs and play their own instruments – given the audience demographic it is a label they will find it hard to escape from.

The songs can be a little bit samey, but the audience didn’t seem to care and the boys certainly know how to keep the crowd on side.

Hit Cecilia was played acousticially by Brad and the two guitarists in the middle of the venue, while Tristan played a drum solo on a raised stage high above the arena, although it was several minutes too long,

The show took place in front of a giant TV screen, showing giant close-ups of the band, as well as videos to the songs they were performing – including a certain Brooklyn Beckham starring in the video for the rather good opening song Wake Up – and worked well on the huge stage, coupled with fireworks, sparks and a finale of red paper hearts falling from the ceiling, a nod to new song Paper Hearts performed earlier in the set.

The Middle of the Night tour is named after their new single - released on the same day as the tour started in Sheffield and another hit with the crowd as The Vamps debuted a handful of new songs interspersed with old favourites such as Wild Heart, Last Night, Can We Dance and set closer All Night.

Frontman Brad wandered the stage constantly, including the long runway in to the audience, much to the delight of the screaming thousands, even if his stage presence came across more like a CBeebies star doing panto than a true rock star with his over-the-top demeanour and oft-repeated appeals for Sheffield to make some noise.

In truth, that’s part of his charm and easy to see why thousands (millions?) of teenage girls love him - The Vamps have six million-plus likes on Facebook, 3.4m followers on Twitter and 2.7m subscribers across their YouTube and Vevo channels.

The big screen was a big part of the show, with several “behind the scenes” clips, including one plug for the new album, with a short video showing all four band members, separately, revealing the new album’s release date of July 14 - and it can be preordered from May 5. Repetitive advertising clearly works.

The Vamps frontman Brad Simpson. Picture: Robin Burns.

The Vamps frontman Brad Simpson. Picture: Robin Burns.

However, it did all feel a bit corporate, especially the announcement that each band member will have their own version of the album, with two unique tracks, ensuring some parents may be forced to fork out four times over to keep their teenage daughters happy.

But those daughters were certainly enough leaving a show which was a clear winner with the fans.

The Vamps performing on the opening night of the 2017 tour in Sheffield. Picture: Robin Burns.

The Vamps performing on the opening night of the 2017 tour in Sheffield. Picture: Robin Burns.

James McVey on stage. Picture: Robin Burns.

James McVey on stage. Picture: Robin Burns.

Connor Ball on stage. Picture: Robin Burns.

Connor Ball on stage. Picture: Robin Burns.