2022 has already been a hugely successful year for indie icons, The Wombats. With their fifth album, Fix Yourself, Not The World achieving number 1 in the UK album charts; the anticipation for an arena tour with the greatest hits has been massive. The Wombats have been a hugely influential band both in the musical sense and reliability of their iconic lyrics. After 11 years of being a fan, it felt truly special to almost travel back in time and re-live the moments when I first heard these songs and the memories attached.
Opening the show at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, were alternative rock band, Sports Team. Going into this support act I was totally blind as to what to expect and they didn’t feel like the right act for the show. Their overall vibe had a strong sense of trying to be too many different bands at once and not being able to find their own niche sound or style. This may be just a case of the band being in their relative early days and being fair to the band, the sound quality for their set didn’t quite sound right, which may have been a large impacting factor. Although this wasn’t the band for me, there did seem to be some areas of the crowd that were fully enjoying what Sports Team had to offer.
Kicking off their set with the opening track for the most recent release, bassist, vocalist and keyboardist Tord Øverland Knudsen brought the strong and distinctive bass rhythm of Flip Me Upside Down.
This fast charged track showed the band were here for a great time and to make plenty of noise. Opening the show with this track felt like the perfect way to warm you up for a hugely energetic evening. With a huge range in age groups attending the show, it really did highlight this was a show for fans both old and new. With the recent explosion in a whole new generation of Wombats fans, the show was sure to be a memorable one.
Naming the tour the Greatest hits tour holds no ounce of a lie. The setlist teased was already a fan’s dream, with the full set being best described as a work of art. With a mix of new tracks being brought to life in live formm while also celebrating a vast and successful discography of music, ensured that there wasn’t a person left out from the fun of dancing around and singing along. After two songs from the new album, the band jumped straight into their classic hit and fan favourite Moving To New York, from their debut album. Within moments of the song starting you could hear the crowd go wild. Cheetah Tongue was a track not shared on The Wombats teaser playlist, but one that there was a lot of demand for online. Hearing this song kick off with its deep and funky opening, gently warms you into yet another classic throwback bop. With every track played live, you really got to experience the full range and diversity within Matthew “Murph” Murphys vocals. With such a distinctive and gorgeous vocal talent, it truly deserves to be heard within arena capacities.
The whole performance of the show sounded totally gorgeous within the Motorpoint arena and really showed off the talent of the band completely mesmerising a crowd with their music. Give Me A Try was a great example of just how good the music sounded in this venue. With its echoing opening and stronger vocals, before diving into faster and louder instrumentals, had such power to fill you with that warm love and excitement for this band. With such a long set from the band (22 tracks to be exact), it really felt like you were being taken through different moments and eras of the bands life. With five albums and so many fantastic tracks to choose from, curating this set certainly must have been a hard task.
Moving back to a newer track with Ready For The High, which on the album sounds incredible as it is, with its flirtatious vibe and twist on the sound we know of the wombats, having this amplified even further with an incredible stage presence and adoring crowd just took it to another level. It wouldn’t be a live show with the wombats without literal wombats joining the band on stage and adding to the incredibly fun trumpets within this track. Similar can be said for Everything I love Is Going To Die; with lyrics that stick with you and an infectious chorus, it’s one of those tracks you know you’ll be walking out the venue still singing over and over.
1996 has long been a favourite track and from the second it kicked in, I was over the moon to hear it live again. There’s something about the track that really has the coming of age feel and sounds stunning live. Throwing it back again with an older track, Jump Into The Fog was sent the crowd into waves of excitement – with such a cool techno opening it’s a perfect song for an arena.
Slowing it down a touch with Emoticons, the love for this song was totally re-sparked, creating a moment where you needed to fully take in the atmosphere to ensure you didn’t forget how special it felt. The best way to describe this song feels like you’re falling in love with falling in love, even if it’s totally terrifying and with someone totally inappropriate. It’s a song that has always been a hard favourite for its stunning instrumentals and lyrics; but hearing it live again and being in a huge room with fellow fans was definitely a highlight of the show. The Wombats are known for their iconic and fun lyrics, and this song just feels like one that has so much heart and passion that you just have to sing your heart out to; especially within the closing parts of the track and this was something fully expressed in their performance. With another slower moment in the setlist, fans were treated to an acoustic and stripped back performance with Lethal Combination. The entire set held so many highlights, but these beautiful few moments truly stood out. Throughout the entire set, there were so many moments for each band member to shine on their respective instruments and be able to catch the total glee and love they have for performing their music.
Before returning to the stage for an encore, the band closed their initial set on Greek Tragedy, an already popular track that saw a new burst of life injected into it with a TikTok remix. With explosive pyro effects, the stage truly screamed that this was a full on spectacular performance. It added so much to the feeling of everything, celebrating a huge range of tracks that have had such a positive impact on so many people.
Starting their encore with Method To The Madness built up to a completely explosive ending to a phenomenal evening of live music. This track has such a mellow and almost dainty opening, before completely opening up into a total ballad that holds a lot of angst and energy. This track was one of the first we heard in the run up to the new album and really showed off a change in sound for the band. This was met with a great reception considering the success of the album, as well as the reaction to the song being played within their set. With a lighting show that matched the track so well, it was so good to hear the track that introduced us to a new era of the wombats sound.
Let’s Dance To Joy Division is arguably one of the most iconic tracks from the trio. It’s an incredibly fun song from start to finish and one you know from the first note. This upbeat track had practically every person in the arena up and dancing, truly giving it their all, as the evening was coming to a close. With wombat mascots returning to the stage for this track, it really felt like a full on party. Throwing it right back to the first album and track that helped make these indie legends. Finally closing the show on Turn was another time I caught myself really taking in the atmosphere of the evening. With this being up there as one of my favourite songs and one thats often stuck in my head, it was a beautiful way to finish the evening. Hearing a the crowd sing “It wont get better than this” at the top of their voices was one of those moments you truly won’t forget. It comes so easy to say The Wombats in Cardiff was one of the best shows I’ve been to.
Photos by Nocturna Photography taken at the London O2 Arena show.