Words by Kev Castle Images Paulwdixonphotography
I can remember playing the first Vamps single on the radio back in 2012 and have had the pleasure of playing their releases ever since, so when I was asked if I’d like to pop along to the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, I was at first a little uncertain to say “yes”, as I am actually old enough to be their erm… Uncle, shall we say.
Did I really want to leave my cosy, warm sofa to watch this talented self made band with a room full of teenagers? Of course I did. Good music is good music whether it is performed by one of the top boy bands of the day or an elder statesman of rock like Sir Elton John.
Over the last decade The Vamps have released five massive selling albums and have been regular visitors to the charts and streams for their music now top over six billion.
Starting the evening is one of the two support acts on this tour, eighteen year old Henry Moodie, whose emotive ballad “You Were There For Me” was one of the highlights of his twenty minute set. Henry started posting on Tik Tok in 2019 and has since won an army of fans with his looks, voice and his sense of humour. Kicking off with one of his original songs, called “18”, a story of how he was feeling when he turned eighteen.
He also performed a cover of Taylor Swift’s hit “Blank Space” which had the Concert Hall singing along with him. Playing guitar and keyboards – not at the same time – he made the stage feel just a little smaller as he filled it with his big talent. May 2023 he headlines his own tour, and if the reception Henry received tonight was anything to go by, his tour is set to be a big success. Fans of young singers like Shawn Mendes will love Henry Moodie.
Up next were the eagerly anticipated all-female band, “The Aces”, with their energetic, raucous rocking brand of indie pop. Hailing from Utah, they formed in 2012 under a slightly longer name and in 2016 released their debut single “Stuck” in the same year. The band has four members: guitarist Katie Henderson, bassist McKenna Petty, and sisters Alisa Ramirez (drums) and Cristal Ramirez (lead vocals and guitars). Without a moment for a breath to take in the cheers from the packed hall they kicked straight into their most recent success, “Girls Make Me Wanna Die”, before they flew into a funky rendition of “Can’t Help Myself” a stylish and tight little groove, then battering on through “My Phone Is Trying To Killing Me” and ending far too soon for my liking with “Coming Back To You”. I have to say that this set was too short by far for this audience, we were warmed up, in their zone. This bill certainly showed the promoters have a group of proper quality aces up their sleeves.
Then, after a thirty-five minute break, the band that even have their own weekend festival in Barcelona took to the stage to a tsunami of noise from the mainly female adoring audience. They did exactly what the tin label suggested, performed their greatest hits.
Brad Simpson, James Brittain-McVey, Connor Ball and Tristan Evans stormed their way through an insanely catchy back catalogue. Kicking off with “Not Going Home Tonight” and on to “Girl On The TV”, they rocked the place, and then slowed it all down, only to get the crowd back on their feet for more dancing and arm waving. From their debut single “Can We Dance” to their latest Christmas offering “Seat At The Table”, we were treated to a musical history lesson.
Bradley Simpson, the lead vocalist, stated that the band’s job was to leave the audience hoarse through singing and shouting, sore feet from dancing and that this celebration should be their audiences best night of their lives. Well, they came extremely close to fulfilling that job tonight. Simpson has an endearing stage presence, he comes across humble but ever the entertainer, and a real rival for people like Harry Styles in working an audience.
Tristian’s drumming is just so infective that you just can’t keep your feet still, and with James’ scorching lead guitar and Connor’s bass as well as Bradley’s guitar work, it’s really no secret as to why after a decade, they are not only one of the most productive recording band, but one of the most exciting live bands.
Combined with an incredible light show and video backing, these four young men, who if you didn’t know play all their own instruments brilliantly. If this night made me realise anything, it made me realise the amount of talented, young musicians we have around today. People of my age, and younger, often criticise the music of today, but all three of the acts on stage tonight exhibited such talent in all musical areas that it is undeniable that all three have the ability to entertain audiences on a grand scale, as well as one to one.
Their appeal seems to not just be to young females but, by the look of this audience tonight, their appeal covers a whole age range, and I was pleased to see that I was not the oldest swinger in town tonight.
Here’s looking forward to Henry Moodie and The Aces reaching a bigger listening audience and to The Vamps’ 20 Years of Greatest Hits Tour.