The Vines / Pete Yorn - Manchester MDH - 23.6.02

After seeing the walking disaster that was the Libertines just over a week ago its easy to become cynical about the latest great white saviours of rock when they're rammed down your throat each and every week. So what's makes the Vines stand out from the pack? Its more a case of different place and different planet. A ball of free flowing energy free of any constraints that the media chooses to pigeon hole them with - in fact that only constraint placed on the shoulders of modern day genius Craig Nichols is the Vines touring schedule, but you wouldn't know it from the three pronged collision on stage right now.

But taking it back to support slot from Pete Yorn before we overload the system with almost ecstatic praise for the Vines. When Pete Yorn was announced as the support act for the tour it was a case of the hottest tickets in town just got even hotter. Yorn is Hollywood's hottest property and its no coincidence when you take in the fact that his brother is the agent of Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz that his songs are regularly featured on songs such "Me, Myself And Irene" and teen soaps such as Dawsons Creak. Rocking his "MusicForTheMorningAfter" album up for the Vines audience is perhaps a good short term move to gain a waiting audience, but you can't help but get the feeling that the simplistic country boy element is lost somewhat amongst the distortion. Still when you have written songs like "Strange Condition" and "Life On A Chain" they would sound the work of genius however you arrange them.

By the time The Vines hit the stage the venue is literally that packed it makes the spacious leg room on Easy Jet look positively luxurious. With the "Highly Evolved" album not out for another two weeks, although we've been slamming the promo copy for the past few weeks), the majority of the audience is hear on the basis of the hype and the two singles released so far. It makes for a strange situation where you have the most exciting band of the past decade on stage and people are simply dumb founded as to what they are supposed to do. When they launch into a cover of Outkast's "Miss Jackson" there's a look of bewilderment, but at the same time everyone realizes that Nichols can turn his hand to anything and make it his own. Similarly when they play the limited edition reggae tinged single "Factory" those who have come expecting the next Kurt Cobain realize there's more to the Vines than just a straight up Nirvana tribute act on stage here. For every song like "Get Free" or "Highly Evolved" its counter-acted by a beautiful stripped down ballad like "Autmn Shade" or "Country Yard".

When we look back at The Vines there will be no-one able to recall that moment when they saw the Vines in a backstreet venue - they simply aimed higher than most and came in fully formed at the height of their game. Next time the Vines play, just lets hope everyone gives them the respect they deserve.

Alex McCann

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