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29th November 2022

Live review: the Vamps bring a night of singalong hits to Manchester’s O2 Apollo

The British boyband return to Manchester as part of their tenth anniversary world tour
Live review: the Vamps bring a night of singalong hits to Manchester’s O2 Apollo
Photo: The Vamps @ Ticketmaster

The Vamps have finally returned to Manchester’s O2 Apollo Arena to celebrate ten years and five albums of music together. Known for hits like ‘Middle Of The Night’, ‘Last Night’, and ‘Somebody To You’, the Vamps have a plethora of great tunes and styles for any music fan to enjoy, with their first album being especially nostalgic for any noughties-born listener. As a long-time fan of the Vamps, I was extremely excited to see what the night would bring and whether they would top their previous performances in Manchester – and they sure didn’t disappoint!

Opening the night were two great support acts, singer Henry Moodie and Indie rock-pop band The Aces. Henry Moodie, best known for his TikTok hit ‘You Were There For Me’, openly admitted that this was his second live performance before proceeding to wow the audience with his own songs as well as covers of artists like Taylor Swift. He has great potential as a singer-songwriter, with catchy lyrics, powerful vocals and a clear talent for both the keyboard and guitar. Certainly, a gem to keep an eye on!

The Aces were also great, introducing the audience to their edgy, headbanging sound with ear-worm songs like ‘My Phone Is Trying To Kill Me’, effectively riling up the crowd for the impending arrival of the Vamps. Each member was full of energy and never stopped utilising the spaces on-stage, jumping, thrashing and shredding with each other, much to the audience’s enthusiasm. Whilst the aforementioned track was not my usual cup-of-tea, every song was played with so much skill and energy that I couldn’t help but enjoy their performance.

Eventually, after a small interval, the stage went dark, the audience roared, and guitar strums foreshadowed the arrival of the main attraction. As the drums and guitars built and a computerised avatar backdrop was projected, Tristan Evans (drums), Connor Ball (bass/guitar), James McVey (guitar) and Brad Simpson (lead vocals/piano/guitar) appeared under the strobing lights and behind a thinly veiled curtain, and were instantly met by the high-pitched screams of their adoring fans.

Opening with ‘Last Night’ and ‘Girls On TV’, two classic hits from their first album Meet The Vamps, the band proved they had as much energy and skill as ever, with Bradley running across the stage and playing to the audience seamlessly as the fans chanted the lyrics. What never fails to amaze me about the Vamps is the sense of community that each band member shares, inviting the audience to witness their friendship through moments of banter, harmonies, strumming together almost competitively, and letting loose in the craziest ways. Later, they gradually moved on to more recent songs like ‘Rest Your Love’, ‘Married In Vegas’ and ‘Shades On’ – the latter of which they brought out the iconic sunglasses for.

At different points in their performance, they returned to more intimate styles of music, with acoustic or slowed down versions of songs like ‘Middle Of The Night’ and ‘Wake Up’, which allowed Brad to show off his piano skills as he serenaded the audience. There’s something about his stripped back vocals and the soft harmonies of his fellow band-mates that creates an air of sincerity. This really allows you to connect with the band and, when contrasted with their usually happier or more energetic styles, proves their versatility as artists.

Throughout the performance, the Vamps used a myriad of stage devices from neon lights on guitars, lighting that enhanced the beat or mood of certain moments, and backdrops with a large screen that projected lyrics, music videos, the band’s past moments, groovy geometric patterns, television backgrounds and more, keeping the set constantly fresh and unpredictable. There was even an intermission playing a video of their history as a band, united by James after meeting each other through social media platforms like YouTube. It showed their previous music videos, songs, fan encounters, moments with each other, concerts, and the lead up to their 10-year anniversary, with Brad later promising a return to Manchester on their 20th Anniversary too.

I think an important part of what elevates their performances is their interactions with the audience, from banter, to looking at the signs, jumping into the press pit to interact with the front row, encouraging the audience to repeat lyrics, use their phone lights, stand, bounce or have intimate phone-less moments with them towards the last moments of their performance. They always highlight their love of the fans and Manchester and make the audience feel like a part of the 10-year journey as much as each member themselves.

Their musical style is constantly evolving, with the exploration of love ballads, pop and party styles, rock and indie elements over several albums. They constantly revisit old works and try acoustic experiments or play with certain sounds, making even old music feel reinvigorated. Overall, I would highly recommend the Vamps’ music and visiting one of the future stops of their tour. With this being a greatest hits 10-year anniversary, it allows fans old and new to explore the different sides of the band and have a simply amazing time singing along.


The Vamps are on tour throughout December, and you can buy tickets here.

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