Despite being one of the bands that picked up quite a bit of hype and acclaim last year, The Vaccines and their debut album What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? didn’t really set 2011 on fire for your reviewer. However, their live show had been recommended highly enough by a number of people to go into this set with a willingness to be won over.

Several of the tracks from the album – “Wetsuit” and “Post Break-Up Sex” in particular – worked well to fill the cavernous expanse of the Hordern and build up some atmosphere. To these ears, their live sound seemed part way between the three-chord wonders of mid-80s British indie music without the walls of feedback and Californian punk delivered with an English accent.

An enjoyable enough live act to see, to be sure, but one that didn’t have enough change in dynamic from song to song to hold interest beyond half an hour. It will be interesting to see what they can deliver with their second album.

Kasabian are, without question, one of the best live bands in the world at the moment. Having witnessed them on every Australian tour they’ve played since their first in 2007, its clear that no matter the venue, the crowd size or the time of day, they always put their all into putting on the best show they can. In Tom Meighan, they have an engaging and energetic lead singer that’s part raver part hype man.

Even before playing a note, the band received a rapturous response from the audience as they hit the stage. Opening with “Days Are Forgotten” from their most recent album Velociraptor!, the group hit their stride immediately as did large sections of the crowd at the front of the stage who moved frenetically up and down to the thumping beat.

The set covered a fairly decent cross-section of work from all four of the band’s albums with newer tracks like “Goodbye Kiss” and “Re-Wired” sitting comfortably with older fan favourites like “Club Foot” and “Shoot The Runner”. A change in pace came mid-way through the set with mellow first album cut “I.D.” getting an airing.

Throughout the set Meighan bounced his way around the stage, leading the audience in spirited singalongs. The crowd duly joined in, particularly during main set closer “L.S.F.” (the refrain of which continued to be chanted in the break before the encore).

The three-song encore maintained the high-energy of the main set. “Switchblade Smiles” kicked things off before Vlad The Impaler took the energy up to another level. The proof that Kasabian had the audience enraptured came with the final song of the night, “Fire”.

Each time the group hit the chorus, a wave of humanity went up and down in unison, hands stretched out to the ceiling with total abandon. As the song wound down, the band suggested one more chorus to which there was a resounding response in the affirmative. Before they started, the band asked that everyone get down onto the floor as low as they could. After some tentative moments, heads began to disappear amongst those standing until there were only a few reluctant participants still standing. The band, which was also sitting or crouched, began to build up to one final burst. With a count-off it gained momentum until the chorus came back and the audience jumped back into the air and continued to jump as the band blitzed through a reprise of the chorus.

Leaving the stage as they arrived, to the sound of rapturous cheers and applause, it was pretty clear that Kasabian are, as the final song suggested, on fire.

– Michael Hartt