Liverpool based indie-pop-rock band, The Wombats, have more energy than a hyperactive child on a diet of Red Bull and Hershey’s chocolate. This was obvious the moment they opened with the synth intro of “Give Me a Try” at their live set at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge in July.
The band’s current tour, in promotion of 2015’s Glitterbug, is taking their feel-good, up-tempo sound back and forth between the U.S. and U.K. throughout the summer and into the fall. But in a live setting, their heavily produced pop-luster is supplemented with a bit of edge, punch, and drive. In fact, they rock pretty hard.
Second up at the Mercy show was “Jump Into the Fog,” which descended into an insanely energetic, bass-dominant breakdown. At this point frontman Matthew “Murph” Murphy took his first opportunity to address the crowd, asking how they felt, then, mentioning something about football (soccer) as he draped a scarf over the amp. The sentiment—and heavy Scouse accent—was lost on the American-dominant crowd, myself included.
By the middle of the set, Norwegian-born bassist Tord Knudsen was manically jumping around the stage in a fervor the audience didn’t quite reciprocate. However, by the time they got to the chorus of “Kill the Director,” the languid crowd had opened up and about half started dancing and singing along.
The highlight of the show was Murph’s focused vocal performance. He sang as if the microphone was the only object in the world, giving it everything he had. Periodic instrumental breaks saw him joining Knudsen in rambunctiously jumping around the stage and clapping, before quickly resuming his place at the mic.
The volume in the nearly packed room was essentially perfect—loud enough to feel it in the air, without being deafening, and the sound quality was excellent. The lighting was pretty typical of a small venue—basic, but colorful—but the band’s presence was entertaining enough not to necessitate anything more elaborate. By the close of the set, “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)” the crowd had finally caught up to the band’s energy level, and Murph spurred them along with some banter.
The tight, hard-hitting set left me wondering what else this band has up their sleeves and if we can expect more from them in the hard rock realm.
The encore opened with Murph giving a solo electric performance of “Isabel” and the audience providing background vocals “Isabel, I'm much better Isabel / When you're ripping my life apart.” The highly anticipated hit singles “Greek Tragedy” and “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” followed, ensuring that all the favorites made the set list.
The show wrapped up with the band digging into a heavy blues/metal instrumental jam unlike any of their pop-driven studio work. The tight, hard-hitting set left me wondering what else this band has up their sleeves and if we can expect more from them in the hard rock realm.
The Wombats will be continuing their tour across the U.S. (with a couple U.K. dates) throughout the summer and fall, so don’t miss your opportunity to catch a more rockin’ side of their feel-good sound.
“Give Me A Try”
“Jump Into The Fog”
“Moving To New York”
“Be Your Shadow”
“Your Body Is A Weapon”
“Patricia The Stripper”
“The English Summer”
“Kill The Director”
“Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)”
“Let’s Dance to Joy Division”