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- The Vines »
The last time The Vines were in the UK they tore across the country like Tasmanian devils, ripping up stages, demolishing TV studios and tearing across ‘new rock revolution’ genre definitions. Craig Nicholls was a pasty-faced, greasy-skinned time-bomb of self destruction powered by Big Macs and vitriol and the whole band was a thrilling, exciting car-crash-waiting-to-happen that were exhilarating to watch and fascinating to read about.
Things couldn’t continue that way; something had to give, and odds on that something was Craig. Drawing comparisons to Kurt Cobain both for his on stage madness and off stage fragility, the music press nodded sagely and prepared itself to document a Pete Docherty-esque decline. Frankly, the fact they’d got it together enough for a new single, never mind album, let alone tour came as a surprise. So it is with a mixture of shock and relief that the all-new healthy looking Vines are greeted to the stage. Craig is still pale (surely unnatural for an Australian), but there is definitely more than a hint of muscle about his be-vested body and he looks like he’s seen the inside of a shower cubicle more recently than last week. He seems sleek, astute and confident, and there is no hint of the trademark Vines-desperation about him or the rest of the band.
The set opens with new single 'Ride', an unsurprising, unchallenging a.n.other Vines’ release which is just saved from blandness by some almo-Beach Boys harmonies. The multi-voices of The Vines are probably the most striking aspects of the band’s whole performance tonight, both in the close harmonies of Craig, Ryan and Patrick (and the endearing singing-sans-microphone of drummer Hamish Rosser during 'Mary Jane'), and in the different vocal styles of Craig, from frenzied shouting to crooning to yodelling. 'Evil Town' is a joy of Pearl Jam growling and 'Winning Days' positively, delightfully Country. There is a discernable lack however of what was for the many the very essence of The Vines; chaos, unpredictability and just a little genuine madness. Tonight’s show is tight and professional; every note is clear and every light change happens right on cue, but it’s glaringly obvious that the crowd is waiting for something different. A few lame surfers try to get it going during 'She’s Got Something To Say', but the biggest surges of excitement are for 'Outtathaway' and 'Fuck The World', when Craig really does make like a bulging eyed Rather Good kitten.
The ultimate feeling tonight, however, is one of disappointment. It was obvious that The Vines couldn’t have carried on the fast burning path they were treading when they first demanded our attention; but it’s a shame they haven’t retained just a little of the hunger that gave them such an edge. Organised chaos really is no kind of chaos at all.