The Vines, Forum, London

Forum, London

Craig Nicholls and his band made a substantial impact when the Vines first arrived on the alternative music scene almost five years ago. Heralded as one of the key acts of the "new rock revolution" - a group of guitar-happy bands that pilfered as much from swinging 1960s harmonies as they did from stomping 1970s punk rock - Nicholls was certainly one of the most interesting things about the largely derivative group. He would regularly turn hyperactive, smashing journalists' Dictaphones and leading the band in chaotic stage shows that were frequently left unfinished. The Australian group faded away in 2004 following tabloid tales of a punch-up and the announcement that Nicholls was suffering from Asperger's syndrome, making it unlikely that the band would ever tour again.

Two years later and the band have played a handful of gigs in the past month, paying testament to the fact that a little controversy never hurt anybody. Nicholls obviously didn't annoy that many people on his last jaunt into the limelight, as the rabid teenage crowd attest, more than glad to see the group again bashing out their simple but vital pop-tinged metal.

Tunes such as Highly Evolved, the song that brought the band to prominence, are pure Seattle grunge in the vein of Nirvana, but there's far more to the group than straightforward thievery. New songs such as Spaceship show a calmer, more introspective side. Yet there's still something of the teenage boy playing air-guitar of Nicholls when he works through his more juvenile numbers, like the tellingly named Gross Out and Fuk Yeh.

Trawling through the back catalogue of classic rock moves, Nicholls gives us scissor kicks, windmilling arms and headbanging that makes his ash blond hair glow like a halo. The Vines may have pulled their socks up but they've not fully matured just yet.


Leonie Cooper

The GuardianTramp

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