Review: The Wombats @ O2 Apollo, Manchester

As I made my way out of the Apollo on Wednesday evening, the delighted guy walking in front of me declared to his friend that he was going to ‘buy a ticket for the arena tour’ when he gets home.

For anyone who was fortunate enough get to the famous old theatre that night, this will come as no surprise.

Indie outfit The Wombats have earned a reputation worldwide for electric live performances, but their latest Manchester show will surely go down as one of their greatest ever.

The trio, fronted by Liverpudlian Matthew Murphy, were once the soundtrack of many teenager’s GCSEs, including my own.

But nearly a decade later, they have matured into something deeper and more expansive, both sonically and lyrically.

And nowadays have plenty to say other than class-room anecdotes and tales of teenage angst. 

This isn’t to say however that nostalgia has no place in the band’s modern day performance. 

To the contrary, as early classics Lets Dance To Joy Division, Moving to New York and Kill The Director completely blew the roof off.

Do not be mistaken, the infectious hooks and cheeky pop culture references remain.

Though now the band rely less on frantic guitar strumming and more on throbbing basslines and synth, evidenced in renditions of tracks taken from latest album, Glitterbug.

Particularly the euphoric Be Your Shadow, which is undoubtedly one of the band’s finest works to date.

From start to finish, the set was high-intensity, high-energy, and high-emotion, allowing the incredible audience no moments rest, shooting track after track like bullets from a machine gun.

Taken from the band’s 2011 album This Modern Glitch, modern day anthem and song-of-the-night Techno Fan had the room on its feet.

While Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves) and a thunderous version of Jump Into The Fog displayed just how far the Merseyside boys have come as a live product. 

Perhaps the only disappointing aspect of the evening was the exclusion of stylish Glitterbug album track Headspace.

But this personal grievance aside, the set-list visited all three of the band’s albums and left no one feeling underwhelmed or dissatisfied. 

As the band approached the end of its nearly two hour set, modest Murphy thanked the crowd for following the band ‘from the start’.

Indeed, The Wombats are no longer the babies of indie-rock, and with nearly a decade of music behind them have matured into seniors.

Yet with experience comes wisdom, and the performance on Wednesday night was that of a more mature, introspective band.

But importantly, one which hasn’t abandoned its founding principles in the pursuit of development.

Whether singing about school-disco cock ups or the struggles of adult life, The Wombats have retained an epic live performance.

Leaving a room full of fans with a special experience to cherish forever.

Image courtesy of Thomas Fabian, with thanks.

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