The Wombats released their long-awaited new album Glitterbug on 13 April. To celebrate they held a party in Brixton and invited 5000 people to it. The band, who met at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, might not be particularly prolific writers (Glitterbug is only their third Long Player, with A Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation debuting in 2007 and This Modern Glitch following in 2011), but they have a manically loyal fan base that insured their solitary London performance sold out in short order.
There were two supports in the form of COMPNY who were playing their first big London stage and Darlia who weren’t – having previously headlined KOKO’s Halloween Ball last year. Both played very competent sets to an enthusiastic and supportive crowd. Darlia looked particularly at home in the expansive surroundings and warmed the partygoers up nicely in anticipation of the main event.
The writing on Glitterbug was inspired by Wombats frontman Matthew Murphy’s experiences during time spent in LA, and a cityscape of neon pierces the darkness as the headline take to the stage. They open with Your Body Is A Weapon, released last year as the first single from the new album. To nobody’s surprise the crowd seem to know every word and vocal chord shattering community singing ensues. Within the first few bars, in the auditorium there’s suddenly a lot more room at the back and a lot less at the front. And the audience aren’t the only people on the move.
Whilst Murphy and drummer Dan Haggis remain a static presence, Norwegian bassist Tord Øverland-Knudsen is careering about the stage displaying energy levels that would shame a Duracell bunny. This level of intensity was maintained for a full 90 minutes, save for a brief (and necessary) lull during Murphy’s tale of unrequited love from the first album, Little Miss Pipe Dream.
The Wombats mixed up the set list to great effect with a spread from all three albums and every song was met with the same wildly enthusiastic response. It’s not easy to pin down The Wombats’ demographic. This was an eclectic audience, but one that shared a manic appreciation for the performance – a fact not lost on Murphy who declared “This has probably been my favourite show in about three years, so thank you all”.
By the time the final encore and Lets Dance To Joy Division came along the community bouncing had reached an intensity that risked parting the Academy’s plaster from its Art Deco surroundings.
It might be a while before The Wombats record again, but if the band serve up live performances like this in the interim, the fanbase will be happy to wait.
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Photography & Live Review by Simon Reed. The Wombats. O2 Academy Brixton on 13/04/15.
Simon has his own great photo site here: http://www.musicalpictures.co.uk