The Wombats: everyone’s favorite deadpan, “walking hurt” English boy band. You could compare their wit, mentality, and hairstyles to Robert Smith, and their ironically poppy sound to The Killers or The Kooks. They have re-imagined the keyboard, made us laugh and cry – often simultaneously – with brutally honest lyrics, and know how to put on one hell of a show.
The Wombats recently released their third studio album titled Glitterbug in January of 2015, and their current tour has led them all throughout Europe, Australia, and the U.S. Just this month, The Wombats have finally made their way down to California to debut at the Observatory in Orange County. This new album features some new classics like “Emoticons”, “Greek Tragedy”, and “Give Me a Try”. For an old fan like myself, it was hard for to make room for this more refined sound, but Glitterbug is a genuinely awesome listen. After flying through their entire discography in a week or two of determined binge listening, I was practically dying to see The Wombats live for the first time.
In my opinion, there are a few staple ingredients necessary to cook up a great concert: a varied set list, the band’s energy and effort, and their ability to work together live. Alcohol is optional, of course. The Wombats nailed every single category. Their set list was a perfect mix of older singles, fan favorites, and new gems. They started off strong with “Jump into the Fog,” a brilliant single from their most popular album This Modern Glitch, and ended even stronger with “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” (hence the deadpan, “walking hurt” comment). Spliced in between were “The English Summer”, an explosive new song from Glitterbug, and “Kill the Director”, a throwback to their beginning. Their set list riled up the crowd immediately. Everyone was throwing fists and dancing in time with the heavy bass, hoppy keyboard solos, and the electric light show.
Matthew Murphy, Dan Haggis, and Tord Knudsen worked like clockwork, thumping with the drumbeat and flailing their instruments like mad men. I have always adored high-energy performers. They really stand apart from the majority, and encourage the room to let loose and just enjoy the moment.
The Wombats then proceeded to morph into Metallica.
For example, the hilarious tradition that started right here at home in the Observatory some years ago, when their first show in the Constellation Room was scheduled right smack in the middle of a heavy metal festival. Murphy went on to say that to “fit in” he and the band finished their show off with a long, ridiculously gnarly riff. The Wombats then proceeded to morph into Metallica, tuning to drop C as red and white lights shot across the room like knives. Half the crowd burst out into laughter as the other half began to mosh and headbang to the morbidly heavy bass and classic guitar riffs. It was the perfect ending to a perfect show, and I could seriously not recommend going out to see The Wombats enough.
Words by Elise Peregrin, Photos by Andrew London