Photos from VANT’s Instagram
Written by: Heather McAleavy
VANT has made a grand return this year after a two-year hiatus which saw him change up his political punk sound for a more pop rock vibe that still packs a punch. Aptly titled The First Days of Freedom Tour, this show proved that it’ll take more than a short break to stop him.
Tonight was support, Magnetic Spacemen’s first time in the UK but you’d never notice. The garage rock four-piece from the Netherlands matched the excited mood of the already packed-out venue, with frontman Sam Pols providing more than enough eccentric antics to grab everyone’s attention and keep it throughout. Despite there being a minor, almost undetectable issue with a guitar, their performance was unfaltered and their growling rock ‘n’ roll noise fest were the perfect warm up for VANT.
There was no need for an introduction from the pastel pink frontman Mattie Vant. Walking onstage with just an acoustic guitar, he simply stated “Right, we’re in” before kicking off with mellow tune ‘Time & Money’, taken from his 2017 debut album Dumb Blood. It was made abundantly clear from the crowd’s reaction that the singer-songwriter from London had been missed, as every word was echoed back at him. After another solo performance of ‘Karma Seeker’ (also from his debut) on keys, his new band joined him, taking up every inch of the small stage. Made up of Alice Costelloe (Big Deal/Superfood) on bass, Ed Hayes (Yuck/Frank Ocean) on guitar and Adam Gammage (Baxter Dury) on drums, this eclectic mix perfectly sum up VANT’s latest direction.
More anthemic crowd favourites ‘I Don’t Believe In God’, ‘Peace & Love’ and the full-band version of ‘Karma Seeker’ caused mini pits within the audience, mirroring the energy onstage. In spite of having a cold, Mattie’s stage presence was still as captivating as ever; from almost looking to be in a theatrical trance for slower, more passionate songs to going right up to the barrier and getting in fans’ faces during guitar solos.
His three new singles ‘Exoskeleton‘, ‘Thank Lucifer’ and ‘Propaganda Machine’ all fitted well with his 15-track set list. There was no shift in the audience’s mood as he dipped in and out of this more electronic sound, showing that as much as they appreciated his previous work, they were strongly committed despite the change. When he did address the hiatus, Mattie also thanked the familiar faces he spotted, which proves the loyalty on both ends.
Although the genre may have shifted, for VANT politics are still at the forefront of some of his new songs. When introducing ‘Propaganda Machine‘ – the first single released after the hiatus – he joked “This song is about Brexit. This next one [older track ‘Birth Certificate’] could have been about Brexit. There’s a theme here.” Some things never change and in regards to VANT’s ability to encapsulate these harsh topics into such simple words, this is definitely for the best.
See VANT live, on tour now!review / vant