Wombats Alexandra Palace March 2018

“Absolute Wombamonium”: The Wombats’ sold-out Alexandra Palace show in review

From the instant the sleepy CGI wombat on the stage-wide screen blinks open its eyes and the first of a thousand synthpop sizzlers strikes up, it’s such sheer Wombamonium that you wish they’d called themselves The Pandas just for laboured wordplay purposes. ‘1996’ is stopped twice and finally abandoned as sections of the crowd collapse under the frenzy of the mosh. The rafters rock to 10,000 voices howling “this is no Bridget Jones!” during ‘Kill The Director’, the wildest its suspected Ally Pally has ever gone to a song about a crap rom-com. “You’re certainly rowdy tonight,” drummer Dan Haggis in one of the many breaks for crowd safety. Doubters take note; these marsupials are officially massive.

The Wombats Alexandra Palace

Photo: Phil Smithies

Riding high on their second Number Three album placing for February’s adventurous psych-synth ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ album, The Wombats return to Ally Pally with little need to prove themselves anymore. The bedrocks of their enduring appeal have been resoundingly vindicated. Being canny enough to take on touches of EDM and Bastille’s chart pop, while maintaining their gold melodic standard and guitar punch has endeared them to the almighty Spotify algorithm and kept their fanbase young, fresh and wild. And singer Murph’s knack of turning the most embarrassing, pathetic, desperate and demeaning moments of his life into sparkling indie pop crackers remains unmatched. A breakdown in New York becomes an energised take on Arctic Monkeys’ noir Americana on ‘White Eyes’. An after-dinner drive-home row with his wife is turned into the lustrous, folkish synthpop of ‘Lemon To A Knife Fight’. ‘Pink Lemonade’, the song that Murph wrote about “sitting in a square in Barcelona convincing myself that my partner was having Interview With A Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula sex with everyone in London”, is a frothy 60s pop gem that could have been written by a paranoid, vengeful Monkees. Lyrically Murph is submerged in trauma and darkness; musically, he’s Mr Brightside. 

Wombats Alexandra Palace

Photo: Phil Smithies

Plus, if there’s a more fun night out in rock music, I’ll eat Wayne Coyne’s inflatable hamster ball. From the stupendous indiepop rockets of ‘Techno Fan’ and ‘Emoticons’ to the euphoric finale of ‘Greek Tragedy’, it’s a relentless blast. ‘Moving To New York’ is introduced with a minute of cheesy lift muzak as the visuals take us up a cartoon skyscraper to the 13th floor, “where all your dreams come true… well, some of your dreams”. During ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ tiny wombat faces pop up from the jagged lines of Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ artwork on the screen while a gang of wombat cheerleaders invade the stage. And at the end of ‘Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)’, a green fluffy lizard thing in a football mascot’s outfit tries to shag Murph to death. “That was Margot Robbie,” he tells himself to battle the PTSD. Truly, the whole world’s going ‘bats.