Considering how 2020 has gone so far, it might seem unusual to start a virtual concert with a song called “Glory Days.” Nevertheless, living “the best days of our lives” was the optimistic theme of The Vamps’ recent livestream, an event that sought to share hope through music.
The British pop band performed live from Round Chapel in Hackney, London on Saturday, streaming its hour-long set worldwide through a private YouTube link. Last month, The Vamps released their fifth studio album Cherry Blossom, an honest record about love, ambition and insecurity that successfully reinvented the band’s image. While their concert did serve as a celebration of their album achieving No. 1 on the U.K. Albums Chart, it was more significantly a celebration of compassion and unity during dreary times.
The performance began in darkness, and as The Vamps played their lighthearted introductory interlude, fuchsia light flooded the stage to reveal an ethereal rosy dreamscape. The stage was the cover artwork of Cherry Blossom brought to life in full bloom: A cherry blossom tree elegantly framed the stage near a golden statue of the band’s logo, and delicate petals cloaked the stage floor. Pink gauzy light shone down on the four band members as they launched into upbeat performances of “Glory Days” and “Better.”
Virtual performances cannot match the euphoria of experiencing a show in person, but it was evident that The Vamps genuinely wanted nothing more than to give their fans a good time. After the energetic opening performance, lead singer Bradley Simpson spoke to the audience directly in a late introduction: “Are you drinking enough water?” he asked. “We’re worried about you.” He frequently addressed the audience between songs, excitedly encouraging fans at home to stand up and sing along.
Though the band predictably played the tracklist from Cherry Blossom in order, the performance did retain an element of surprise through the revival of a few old hits. After a captivating acoustic performance of “Would You,” the venue dramatically went dark. As the lights slowly came back on set to anticipatory music, viewers watched The Vamps pass through a hallway to arrive at a second stage. The air of mystery was finally broken with the crisp opening notes of “Can We Dance,” followed by stripped renditions of “Somebody to You” and “All Night.” All three originally electronic songs were acoustically reworked, gently reminding viewers of the band’s newfound artistic maturity.
With a fiery guitar riff signaling a smooth return to the initial Cherry Blossom setlist, the band jumped back onto the main stage to deliver a passionate performance of “Bitter.” Many songs, including “Bitter,” adapted extended instrumental fades for their live debuts, allowing the band to flaunt its creativity as well as maintain its infectious energy.
While Simpson was often the focus of the show as lead vocalist, varying camera angles allowed all of the band members to shine. The audience was also able to appreciate the intricate set design with occasional overhead views, and closer shots created intimacy during performances of heartfelt ballads. Simpson even held the camera vlog-style with one arm for a lively performance of “Chemicals,” singing directly to the camera.
Near the end of the performance, Simpson thanked viewers for tuning in and reminded them of the importance of empathy. “Check up on friends and family,” he said. “During times like these, it can get lonely.”
The concert then concluded with a lovely performance of “Treading Water,” a soft, bittersweet ballad about insecurity and hope. As white swirling lights illuminated the stage, the camera gradually panned away from the band to indicate the end of the livestream. Unlike many virtual events nowadays, the event was not available to watch on demand after its conclusion — a final reminder of the importance of living in the moment.
Following the hopeful motifs present in Cherry Blossom, the concert was a fleeting but comforting celebration of joy. A welcome revelry of hope through music, The Vamps’ performance was nothing short of enchanting.