A warm New England evening on a cold London night
Maisy Farren
10:57 14th November 2019

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Stepping on stage with his signature Epiphone Sheraton, Ezra Koenig introduces his band and receives a warm welcome from a loving London audience. It’s been six years since Vampire Weekend last brought their summer-loving indie pop to the UK, and a sold-out tour here offers them the triumphant return they certainly deserve. 

Playing for an impressive two hours, the setlist hopped between old classics and hits from 2019’s Father of the Bride. Opening with the gentle trill of ‘Bambina’ before crashing into ‘White Sky’ and ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’, the energy in the vast Alexandra Palace was positively palpable. Each song was advanced by a jubilant extended intro, teasing the audience into second-guessing the next song to come. Treating us to Contra classics like ‘Horchata’ and ‘Cousins’, Vampire Weekend reminded the audience of their vast discography and long-standing success. 

Opting for a less-talk, more-action approach, the band kept shtum and cracked on with an overflowing setlist. Two new additions to the bands line-up were guitarist Brian Jones and vocalist Greta Morgan, both of who stunned on stage. Jones’ extended guitar solos provided a thrilling reimagining of well-known pop hits, whilst Morgan’s delicate vocals were a perfect rendition of Danielle Haim’s collaboration on 'Father of the Bride’. 

In a two-hour set it’s clear to see that pleasing the fans was Vampire Weekend’s main goal. A mid-set performance of SBTRKT’s popular ‘New Dorp New York’ (which featured vocals by Koenig himself) was a delightful treat for those who closely followed the musician’s work in between albums three and four.

Whilst an encore can often be an indulgent extra for a live band, Vampire Weekend devoted this additional time to the fans. Taking two requests from devoted kids on the barrier, the band performed ‘Contra’s’ ‘Diplomat’s Son’ and 2008 B-side ‘Ottoman’, before finishing on a high with ‘Worship You’ and ‘Ya Hey’. Frankly, a five-song encore began to drag, and the band could have easily cut that down and kept audiences happy. But, seeing as it might be another six years before we see Koenig and co. grace UK stages, at least we got as much out of them as possible. 

Whilst most bands would begin or end shows with FOTB’s lead single ‘Sunflower’ or jubilant success ‘A-Punk’, VW haphazardly threw both songs into the middle of the set. Despite having heard it time and time again, audiences went wild for ‘A-Punk’. The performance of ‘Sunflower’ didn’t quite bolster the same excitement, making it clear that the oldies really are still the best.

The entire show felt like a short break in New England or wandering the campuses of Columbia in the spring. Re-entering blustery London on a cold November’s evening was an unfair end to the night, and we look forward to Vampire Weekend bringing their delightful sound and warmth back for album five. 

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Photo: Liv Rook