Review: The Wombats at O2 Guildhall, Southampton

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The Wombats visit to our most esteemed Guildhall looked somewhat like a school disco with plenty of synth-laden pop rock for the prepubescent and young adolescent crowd, lest we forget the stoical parents occupying the spaces by the door and the bar. Sundara Karma supported them on the night with a brief cameo performance of the rousing anthemic variety.

A luminous city skyline adorned the backdrop of the stage and soaked the scouse trio in a neon glow for their hour and fifteen sojourn in Southampton. The transition from studio to stage is smooth and seemingly effortless for the boys as they managed to nail every note, lick and riff they had to offer as they continued their whistle stop tour for their new album Glitterbug.

Mathew Murphy, frontman-extraordinaire, drummer Dan Haggis and bass wielding Norwegian Tord Knudsen set the tone the moment they strolled on stage, belting out ‘Give Me a Try‘, one of the standouts from their latest album, complete with a rousing accapella chorus. It had been some time since their last visit and The Marsupial merriment continued as ‘Jump Into the Fog‘ was wound up to a fever pitch and was breathlessly followed by golden oldie ‘Moving to New York‘ that unsurprisingly whipped up the crowd into a bit of a frenzy.

1996’s melancholy lament to lost youth had the entire crowd clapping in deafening unison to the whim of the maestro Murphy. The lead man then assured the crowd that they should “feel free to scream if you want to” and of course they dutifully obliged, substance and quips! There was a slight lull in proceedings midway through with the new material from their third album, however ‘Your Body is a Weapon‘ was especially raucous, a typically techno infused indie mash-up you would expect from The Wombats.

More familiar music managed to get the joint bouncing once more. ‘Techno Fan‘ would resonate with any fresher folk that would chop off a limb for a good time and drink with a northern soul, it was all lasers and cutting shapes and all for the price of 20 sheets. Another newbie ‘Pink Lemonade‘ was introduced with the songs inspiration; a trip to Barcelona and anxiety over a possibly cheating girlfriend; strange considering the rather cheery vibe of the tunes hook.

Murphy, Haggis and Knudsen then delivered a quick one-two of fan favourites in ‘Kill The Director‘ and ‘Tokyo‘; emblematic of the band’s synthy evolution from their indie origins. The stage was then vacated for the encore but not before percussion man Haggis soaked the front row with the dregs of his beer. Upon their return the hall was bathed in a green glimmer for ‘Greek Tragedy‘ with all and sundry giving it everything on the air-drum. Their swan song was of course ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division‘ and it sent the young audience into rapture. After an intense crescendo that had the audience erupt into a frenzy of flailing limbs, chants of “We’re so happy” continued long after the band had triumphantly finished their lovelorn set.

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Im Freddie and Im a nerd. I go to as many gigs as I can because I love getting elbowed in the face to music; a pursuit I've thrown all my pennies at. Money well spent.

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