Live Review: The Wombats - The SSE Wembley Arena, London 01/02/19
Seemingly the only remaining survivors from the post-2006 indie landfill, The Wombats are finally looking like their glorious former selves all those years ago.
Ahh, The Wombats. Even muttering ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ gives me instant flashbacks to drinking warm cider down at the park at an age that I really shouldn’t be proud of. Alas, The Wombats are included in some fond memories of mine. Even coming to the gig on this bitterly-cold Friday night, I held a lot of apprehension in fear of ruining my 15 year old awe of this classic staple indie band. What if it isn’t as good as I remember? What if they’ve lost their touch like all these other “used-to-be-huge” indie bands?
Oh, how I was wrong.
First up as main support are on-the-rise indie rockers, Blaenavon (still don’t know how that’s correctly pronounced...) Whether it be headlining a 350-cap OMEARA or supporting one of the UK’s biggest bands at a 12,500 capacity arena, they still know how to put on a bloody good show. Throughout these short but sweet 30 minutes, London had no hesitation in opening up pits for the majority of Blaenavon’s set, with frontman Ben Gregory even throwing his guitar across the stage in a ‘The Who’-esque move at the end of ‘Prague ‘99’. Find me a better support act than these guys and I’ll eat my hat.
Opening with ‘Cheetah Tongue’ and having a ton of confetti cannons going off within the first 60 seconds of walking on stage is a ballsy move, I’ll give them that one. The deafening screams and hundreds of people upon each others shoulders for the very first song proved that The Wombat’s are still kicking and very much alive. However, the crowd reaction to ‘Moving To New York’ which came up next was something else. Pints flying, crowd surfing, “New York” chanting; carnage.
Ending with ‘Tokyo’ & ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ (before their inevitable encore of course..) had the crowd going absolutely nuts. Sorry boys - as much as you try and distance yourselves from those stone-cold bangers we all grew up with, they’re still the best. The EDM flavoured banger that is ‘Tokyo’ had hundreds of inflatable beach balls launched into the crowd amidst smoke and red backlight, which I’m sure will make for a good Instagram photo. ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ features a colossal moving graphic of Joy Division's’ ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album art, an ode to the songs inspiration, in an explosive finale of feel-good ear-wrenching guitar and bass filled drums, including a swarm of stage invaders dressed as actual Wombats. Fade to black.
Skip 5 minutes and they’re back on with an acoustic rendition of ‘Lethal Combination’, and encouraging all 10,000-something people to get their flashlights out. It was a cute moment, I won’t lie, but the rock kid in me was still holding out for lighters. Finally, after a 20 song guitar filled rampage that has vibrated London to its core, the rolling synths and iconic drums to ‘Greek Tragedy’ kick in - and for just 3 minutes, everyone's problems didn’t seem so bad. To see over 10,000 people enjoy themselves without a care in the world is a refreshing twist in this shit show of a world we live in; and very rarely can an artist truly have an effect on a crowd like that. Hats off to you lads.
Oh, and more confetti of course. Where would an indie band be without a confetti filled finale?
With them being in the scene for over 15 years, you could be forgiven for thinking that their only live appeal is nostalgic teenagers who grew up going to Reading Festival after GCSEs and trying to get away from the harsh realities of growing up. But even after all that time, and the fall of circa 2006 greats, our favourite marsupials still refuse to go quietly; and I for one think that this is great news.
Words and Photography by Jordan Logan