It’s easy to be snide and cynical about events like this – why should a bunch of so-called one-hit wonders deserve a headlining tour 35 years after their brief brush with fame?
But the fact is – to a significant minority of people – The Vapors meant something and still do.
That’s why their London comeback at Camden Dingwalls was an eagerly anticipated sell-out and why both band and audience seemed to share a mutual disbelief that this was all really happening after 35 years.
Never at a gig have I seen so many forty and fifty somethings stupefied by sheer delight, broad grins spread across their faces as they launched themselves into the oldest mosh pit in town.
The Vapors could have been rubbish and got away with it, such was the awe and amazement at seeing them back on stage after all this time.
But they were very far from rubbish – blistering through their back catalogue with a well thought out set that built to a powerful crescendo.
Emerging to the sirens of Secret Noise they were loud, fast and seriously tight, thanks in no small part to the addition of powerhouse drummer Michael Bowes.
Frontman Dave Fenton – who confirmed the band’s return in an EP interview in August – was cool and assured, leaving most of the between song banter to livewire guitarist Ed Bazalgette.
With his shaven head and thousand yard stare Bazalgette resembles a young Wilko Johnson and he was more than happy to take the lead, constantly charging to the front of the stage to thrust his axe over the heads of the audience.
Bazalgette even took lead vocals for the song Isolated Case which he co-wrote with bassist Steve Smith.
“Steve and I finally write a complete song together all on our own and Dave calls it Isolated Case – I’m just saying!” he quipped.
As the set went on, B-sides were greeted with the same rapturous response as singles like Jimmie Jones.
Although clearly excited to be there, Fenton seemed bemused that his songs were still held in such high regard.
“You know all the words,” he remarked at one point, genuinely amazed to hear his lyrics being sung back to him.
Perhaps inevitably their best known song Turning Japanese was tossed away with little fanfare towards the end, as if the band were determined to shake that one-hit wonder tag.
But there was far better to come in the encore with a rousing version of the single Waiting For The Weekend, giving way to hardcore fans’ favourite Here Comes The Judge.
“It’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right/I’m just a bit zoombie,” we all screamed at the top of our lungs, before the band trooped off stage, still looking slightly bewildered at the warmth of their reception.
- The Vapors play London’s legendary 100 Club in April next year, so we won’t have to wait quite as long to see them again. Tickets available here.
- For more show section and images check the out the bands Twitter page @Vaporsofficial.
Well written, wonderful, thoughtful review with an uncannily clear representation of what the Vapors’ reunion means to so many of us. Flew from America to see the Dublin show. Will treasure it forever. Thank you for this.
Thanks DK! Glad you enjoyed it