Tall of hair and puppy-ish of demeanour, The Vamps have been hailed heirs to One Direction’s brylcreemed crown. But comparisons to the world’s biggest boyband/soap opera are not entirely accurate. With their guitars, sleeveless vests and penchant for mid-air drum solos, the group are in the tradition of cartoon punk troupes such as Blink-182 and Busted.
That is, they’re a rock band, with the edges blunted off. At a sold-out 3Arena, they performed medleys of ‘Seven Nation Army’ and Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’, and romped through over an hour of rollicking original material, showcasing their facility for zinging hooks and high-pitched vocals.
Such boyband staples as synchronised dancing and terrifying power-ballads were, however, conspicuously absent — had they ever tried out for X Factor, Simon Cowell would probably have advised that they immediately hire a choreographer and a new songwriter.
It helps that theirs has been a hardscrabble climb to the top. Having met via social media, the outfit’s musical baby steps were largely traditional. They played dingy venues, and had pint glasses chucked at their heads. The Vamps have had to prove themselves before indifferent, occasionally hostile, audiences and, amid their present success, this grounding has obviously stood to them.
What they have borrowed from 1D is a penchant for mucking about between tunes. Though the music is endlessly slick, as raconteurs they conduct themselves like school friends who have given the teacher the slip during a field trip. Here, there were giggles and japes; even a sequence in which they dressed as Star Wars characters.
You probably have to be a prepubescent girl to really understand their charm: still there’s no denying the slickness and genuine exuberance they bring to the genre.