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The Wombats/O2 Academy

Heather Smith loves seeing the 'posh boys' in a not-so-posh venue

Written by . Published on December 12th 2011.

The Wombats/O2 Academy

Pictures: Darren Aston

WHEN The Wombats last played a big homecoming show, it was at down the Arena in 2008. With only one album under their belt it was, as the phrase goes, a big ask.


The show worked with a weird novelty element to it. Lead singer Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy admitted on stage, “This might never happen again”. 

You can be as snooty as you want about The Wombats; for being from LIPA, for being posh scousers, for releasing a second album that’s more like an appendix to the first. I don’t care

To be honest, I’m glad it hasn’t happened again (yet). For instead, the LIPA-formed trio last night played their first of three consecutive sold-out shows at Hotham Street’s more suitable O2 Academy.

I don’t know if it’s the low, beer-stained ceiling that sparkles slightly under the light or the sheer heat that makes your jeans seem two sizes smaller, but some shows are just right for the Academy’s big black room. The bar remains an interminable rip-off (£4.10 a pint) but that’s another story. 

With twice as much material to work with, this show felt bigger and was definitely better with only about a third of the Arena’s full capacity crammed in for the ride. 

You can be as snooty as you want about The Wombats; for being from LIPA, for being posh scousers, for releasing a second album that’s more like an appendix to the first. I don’t care. And for the record I’d have been pretty pissed off if they’d come back with some crazed prog rock effort just to keep NME happy. 

The Wombats are daft. Their lyrics are sardonic verging on ridiculous. It’s all a bit of an upbeat melodic blur otherwise known as fun. It is no accident that the band has become on of Britain’s favourite live acts. They are good at what they do. 

The set, which pushed the hour and 45 minute mark, packed a gloriously poppy punch and was split fairly evenly between both albums A Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation and This Modern Glitch. Big hit Backfire At The Disco, however, was bizarrely omitted. 

Murph apologised to his mum (present on the balcony) for all the swearing. He also delivered the link, “That last song was about falling in love with a prostitute; this next song is about falling in love with a prostitute.”

As it goes, Jump Into The Fog and Patricia The Stripper, respectively, went down a treat with clap-ready, one-arm-in-the-air-constantly crowd. 

Drummer Dan Haggis showed signs of success as he told tales of the band walking down Sunset Boulevard. But before you could say ego, he was back to a rather more basic form: “Feel free to sway your arms or stoke each others genitals to this next one”. 

Let’s Dance To Joy Division was saved until last, a jovial moshpit - a Wompit if you will - was established and featured a mum, dad and son. Genius. 

I was 16 when The Wombats were playing Barfly on practically a weekly basis. Yet last night, 1996, the ode to carefree teenage life was dedicated to “the older ones” in the audience. Looking around, sizeable chunks of this audience were probably born in that year. Yikes. 

If the kids like you, you’re alright. I just hope The Wombats don’t end up in the stadiums too soon. Look at what happened to the Kaiser Chiefs…

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