By Nick Stalford
On April 28th The Wombats played at Paradise Rock Club. By the time they took to the stage at 9:30pm, both opening bands Cheerleader, from Philadelphia, and Life In Film, from East London, had more than sufficiently done their job of working up the crowd.
As 9:30pm approached, the roadies finished their microphone checks. A momentary hush fell upon the eagerly awaiting fans and then The Wombats took to the stage, breaking the silence as fans screamed, jumped, danced, and cheered without pause for the rest of the show.
The Wombats are an indie-rock band hailing from Liverpool, England, formed in 2003. Their music is both amusingly quirky and playful, with a splash of alternative dance and post-punk elements, which has raised them to several Top 10 positions on the UK charts. In 2008, the band won NME’s award for “Best Dancefloor Filler” as well as MTV Europe’s “Best New Act.” Their success in the UK has led them to begin to tour overseas and build a large and steadily growing fan base in the United States.
Their most recent album, Glitterbug, showcases a major development in their sound as they transitioned from a harsher indie rock sound to more dance and electronic pop rock sound. With songs like “Be Your Shadow” and “Techno Fan,” The Wombats have developed more radio friendly material and it shows, as Murphy stated that they recently finally heard one of their own songs on a U.S. radio station for the first time.
After taking to the stage and immediately playing the first song of their set, The Wombats paused and began the pattern of lightly bantering with the crowd between each song. Murphy let the crowd know that they weren’t feeling very good (he boasted that he had managed to throw up on his own face earlier) and that is was likely his voice would crack, which encouraged the crowd to cheer when it happened. Early on during the show, one especially enthusiastic fan held up a handmade sign that read “It’s my GF’s Birthday Today!” to which lead man and singer Matthew Murphy replied, “Well, happy birthday to you,” and then preceded to dedicate the next song to the birthday girl.
At some point in between their hour-and-a-half-long set, Murphy told the crowd the story of their first experience coming to Boston. They had played at “The Great Scott” (yes, “The” Great Scott) and only 17 people were in attendance. But despite the small crowd, the band carried out “crowd surfacing races” (whatever that means) and had a fantastic experience, making Boston a must-have tour location from that point on.
Compared to that past show at Great Scott, the Paradise was filled past capacity with one of the most enthusiastic crowds I have ever seen. And perhaps it was just the British accents, but liveliness of the crowd during the show seemed to almost mirror the extreme reactions of Beatlemania during the 1960s. Although Murphy and the rest of the Wombats are not nearly on the same level as The Beatles, that night, it seemed like they were.
The Wombats continue to tour the United States this summer heading west towards California, so catch them if you can for a great show and check out their music online at http://www.thewombats.co.uk/.