The Vamps | The Greatest Hits

The Vamps’ Greatest Hits Tour is not one to miss, for long time fans, casual listeners or those simply looking to be entertained.

Just when a gig begins depends on who you ask. Those that simply enjoy live music may say a show’s opener sets the tone for the evening. Die hard fans may disagree, showing up just before a headline act takes the stage. Other people may mark the start by the dimming of the overhead lights, while those behind the scenes cite their early morning alarms. However, when the concert in question is in celebration of a band’s 10 year anniversary, I would argue that the show begins the moment the fans, those that have enabled an act’s longevity, start to arrive.

Prior the The Vamps’ Greatest Hits Tour’s recent show at the O2 arena, I spent some time chatting to those happily settled in the growing queue, asking questions about what they liked about the band, how long they had been a fan, how many shows they had seen, and, if the answer was multiple, what made them keep coming back. Regardless of if it was their first show or their fifth, if the band was a recent discovery or if they had been there since day one, their answers all held a sense of joy and excitement that made me all the more eager to see what all the fuss was about. 

From there the energy only increased. The arena was packed for the supporting acts, which for the UK dates are Tik Tok sensation Henry Moodie and American Alternative pop group The Aces. Henry, who has one official release to date, There For Me, claimed audience attention with ease and a little bit of assistance from Taylor Swift in the form of a cover of her hit Blank Space. The Aces, which includes guitarist Katie Henderson, bassist McKenna Petty, and the Ramirez sisters, drummer Alisa and lead singer Cristal, put the crowd through a vocal warm up, encouraging participation during My Phone is Trying to Kill Me, and got them on their feet with up beat hits Daydream and Stay. While most people in attendance at this show clearly bought their tickets for the headliner, both openers left the stage able to claim many of the fans as their own. The house lights rose on happy faces ready to use their allotted break to refill glasses, purchase merchandise or simply vibe to the pre-show playlist – a mix of time tested classics and new pop chart toppers guaranteed to keep the buzzing energy alive.

It was more than fitting that I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston soundtracked the arena’s final plunge into darkness. The award winning song was instantly drowned in the anxious screams brought on by the introductory pounding drum beats. From the moment James McVey, Tristan Evans, Connor Ball, and Bradley Simpson took the stage, the dancing rarely stopped. The set list spans the band’s ten years of pop-rock hits, including fan favourites Somebody To You and Middle Of The Night, bringing a nostalgic bend to the atmosphere; a sentiment that was amplified by the thousands of cell phone flashlights that served to light the venue during the ballads and acoustic moments.

It is to be expected that a band with a decade of experience, and seven previous O2 shows, under their belt would operate at the height of professionalism – but The Vamps take it a step further, adding a layer not always found amidst the flashing lights and pyrotechnics. Watching these four men on stage, it becomes astoundingly clear that, while they possess a natural ability to enrapture and entertain, more than proving their mettle as musicians, what sets them apart is the sense of camaraderie forged by years of friendship. Whether it’s lead guitarist James McVey spending moments rocking out face to face with drummer Tristan, coordinated multi-guitar solos on the runway, or bassist Connor’s solo stint atop Bradley Simpson’s piano, the band’s obvious rapport and joy found in performing together is what makes this show so much fun to be a part of. 

All in all, The Vamps’ Greatest Hits Tour is a show that not only caters to the dedicated fans who have loved the band the longest, but warmly welcomes those simply looking for a great night out. During the two plus hours of on-stage entertainment the O2 Arena was packed to the brim with an infectious energy that spread like wildfire and lasted as the audience pooled out the venue doors and into the night, dancing and singing to newly made memories. I could not recommend it more.

Prior to the concert, 1883 Magazine had a chat with The Vamps about getting back on the road, their favourite parts of the show, backstage tattoos, and more.

 

You’ve been on tour for about a week now. How have the first few shows been?

Tristan: They’ve been good. It’s all very exciting. There’s a new energy with this tour. We’ve been away for a while, so to be back with the Greatest Hits Tour to celebrate these last 10 years is a big thing for us. 

James: The shows have been awesome. It’s a different vibe this time around. Everyone is sick and tired of being stuck at home and really wants to get out and enjoy themselves.

 

Is there anything about being on the road that you’re surprised you missed?

James: Catering is nice.

Bradley: Yeah, catering is good. I missed the schedule that comes with it, weirdly.  I like the rhythm that it puts your body in.

Connor: It shifts your day. 

Bradley: Usually when we’re off we get up a little bit earlier, but if you did a tour with a typical day’s schedule, it doesn’t make sense. On tour, you’re getting up around 12, so that you get a burst of energy at like eight o’clock at night. It’s been really fun getting back into that routine. 

Tristan: Us three, [gestures to Connor, Bradley, and himself] are pretty big night owls. We have the same schedule. James keeps his a little bit earlier.

Connor: [to James] It must be like jet lag for you.

James: Yeah, I’m fucked.

[All laugh]

 

 

Trust me, I’m right there with you. Is there anything you thought you would miss but you don’t?

Tristan: Blisters. [all agree] The pain that comes with touring.

Connor: The body aches.

Tristan: You can see them. I’ve got mad blisters. They hurt. You have to look after things like that. Tape yourself up or super glue them. It’s kind of cool as well, but it’s something I don’t miss.

 

Do you have any favorite moments from the show that you look forward to every night?

Tristan: These guys [Bradley, James, and Connor] do a three way guitar solo. It’s insane.

Bradley: We’ve just released a song called Seat At The Table. This isn’t even me trying to get promo for it. I genuinely love that moment in the set. We’ve never played the song live before. We just released it. The first time we’re playing it is on this 10 year celebration tour. The whole process of that song has been fun and that moment in the set is really nice.

 

Do you have any touring traditions or rituals that you’ve created over the years that have stuck with you or anything that you’ve changed for this tour?

James: There’s one I would love to change but we can’t because we’ve always done it. It will be the longest one today as well. We rub our chins together before each show. It depends on the day of the month how long we do it. 

 

[laughs] How did that come about?

Bradley: We didn’t want to do the normal hands in thing, so we were trying to come up with a weird one. Nothing felt quite right. Before our first show we just decided to rub our chins together.

James: It was fine in the early days. But Tris has really got an issue with facial hair now.

Tristan: I have a lot of stubble.

Bradley: No, I don’t think it’s an issue. I think it’s a blessing.

James: Well, it’s a blessing with an issue. Only in that setting is it an issue. It’s a biblical thing day to day but when you’re rubbing chins with that it’s —

Tristan: Back in the day, we all were smooth, but now it’s a little bit more facial hair.

 

 

That’s funny. With touring, obviously, comes traveling, do you like to play tourists on your days off?

Bradley: Yeah, definitely.

 

What kinds of things do you like to do?

Bradley: I did it in London the other day. I went to Notting Hill and did Portobello Road Market. Connor, Tristan and I used to be quite bad at doing that. James has seen the world.

James: I’ve seen it all.

Bradley: The rest of us have seen a lot of hotels. I think when we go to Australia in January, we’re going to take some time out to go and see a bit more of the country. Not many people get the chance to go to these places, so we want to experience as much of it as we can.

 

You want to be able to actually see the cities that you’re in, so you can say that you’ve really been there. I know I have favuorite venues to see shows in. Do you have favourites to put on shows in? 

Tristan: This one.

James: This is Tris’s favourite.

Tristan: Well, it’s like a home show for me. Linkin Park was the first proper band I saw and it was here. Then I saw Blink-182 the next year. When we made The Vamps, it was always a dream to play it.  Now, for this to be our eighth show is unreal. It’s awesome to be back. The energy from this place is great.

 

Do you have any venues that are your favourites to see shows in yourselves?

Bradley: There is a little venue I saw Paolo Nutini at recently on Oxford Street called 100 Club. It’s tiny. It’s very narrow, but really wide which means that everyone is very close to whoever’s on stage. It was really nice. I love all the big venues, of course, getting to see and a full production. But there’s something nice about being close to someone when you’ve loved their music for a long time. I like 100 Club for that reason.

 

 

I know it was briefly mentioned, but while I have you, let’s chat for a second about Seat At The Table. It’s not your typical holly jolly holiday fare, which is refreshing, to be honest. I enjoy a somber Christmas song. What inspired it?

Bradley: It’s similar to what you’ve just said. We didn’t want to write a typical Christmas song. In the context of the past two and a half years, where everyone’s experienced loss in quite a big way, which is typically quite a hard thing to speak about, we wanted to give people a chance to do that. We wanted the song to be a way to say, “it’s hard but let’s celebrate the people we’ve lost, the amazing times we had and memories made, so that we can keep their memories alive and in turn keep those people alive.” As I said, it’s quite a hard, hard thing to speak about. But, we were really happy with the way that it came out.  We agree with you. We love the upbeat Christmas songs, but it’s also nice to get some more somber ones in there.

 

I think a lot of times, around the holidays, we expect those feelings to get buried. 

Bradley: Yeah, you’re meant to have the best time ever. It’s so true.

 

Lastly, in an Instagram reel of the first Manchester show, Tristan and Connor mentioned getting band Tattoos in London. Did that happen or Is that going to happen? What is the tattoo going to be?

Connor: We’re doing it tonight. The artist is coming here.

 

What was the tattoo gonna be? 

James: What are you getting, Tris?

[All laugh]

Tristan: Maybe not today, because it’s my first tattoo, so I’m on the fence about it. I’m just worried about all the sweat, but I’d get something to do with an “X” or a “10.

 

Oh, that’s cool. Are you going to get the same one?

Connor: I’m getting an “X” on my hand.

James: We’re definitely going to get some in Australia. That’s kind of confirmed. Well, in my mind, anyway.

 

Catch The Vamps on their 10 Year of The Vamps tour now.

 

Interview Sydney Bolen

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