VANT plays to a packed out Clwb Ifor Bach, reminding people how brilliant they are
In some ways, when VANT first arrived on the scene a few years ago it feels as if they were ahead of their time, dropping debut album Dumb Blood prior to IDLES, Dream Wife, Fontaines D.C. all releasing theirs. In the time that’s passed, VANT went on hiatus and returned with a new band for a new era, and a new tour to showcase the new album.
Newport’s Finding Aurora take to the stage at first, frontman Samuel Wagenaar Jenkins building a rapport with the fledgling crowd as the band run through a rollicking set of their evolving back catalogue, from storming opener ‘Haley’ to an as-yet-unreleased track. They’re followed by Dutch garage rockers Magnetic Spacemen, who have toured with VANT previously. Their high-octane set and on-stage antics are a sight to behold, as is their electric stage presence as they travel over the North Sea.
As VANT come on stage there’s a clear sense of anticipation from the audience. With their long-awaited sophomore record Conceived in the Sky recently released, there’s plenty of new material to shake up the setlist and we go straight into ‘Mary Don’t Mind’. Although VANT’s latest material is less pure punk energy, it’s still deliciously heavy live, as ‘Mary Don’t Mind’, ‘Thank Lucifer’ and ‘Best Friends’ all match up to the Dumb Blood classics.
The setlist chops and changes between albums one and two, a couple of old favourites followed by a recently released pair. With a completely different band – Mattie apart – from who we saw during VANT’s first incarnation, it would be easy for them to fall by the wayside with Mattie the clear star of the show, but there’s a clear feeling of togetherness between all on stage. It’s reflected in the music too, as the call-to-arms ‘Birth Certificate’ is followed by the self-described “song about Brexit” ‘Propaganda Machine;.
Finally, after the triple whammy of fan-favourites ‘Karma Seeker’, ‘Parking Lot’ and ‘Do You Know Me’, Mattie and co. walk off stage. “I don’t wanna get soppy,” he says, “but I’m an independent artist”, telling the crowd how much their attendance means to him. Of course, the band are soon back on for an encore, kicking off with ‘Give Up (Morrissey’s Racist)’, which inevitably turns into a ‘Wonderwall’ singalong and a room full of arms in the air. Despite cutting the 10pm curfew fine, there’s enough time for ‘Fly-By Alien’, a VANT classic that leaves everyone breathless and certain that VANT are well and truly back.
‘I’m a music and culture journalist currently based in the West Midlands. Always on the lookout for up-and-coming artists but my favourite bands include IDLES and Arctic Monkeys. Probably last seen at a gig.