Live Review : The Wombats w/ Bloxx & The Night Cafe | Cardiff Great Hall | 16/03/18


The Wombats released their fourth studio album, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life at the start of February 2018. The singles released from the LP have been attracting plenty of radio play, and the album peaked at number three in the respective official charts. Since the release of their debut album in 2007, the demographic of the band’s fans has slowly been evolving. Their new album has attracted a new type of fan, complete with glitter highlights, unmarked Docs and artfully ripped vintage jackets – no misfit indie kids to be seen queuing outside Cardiff’s Great Hall.

First to grace the stage in Cardiff was London-based indie/grunge outfit, Bloxx (7.5). Their unique style and heavier sound didn’t appeal to the most of The Womats’ fans present, but their latest single ‘Novocain’ saw a few people dancing or swaying along to guitars that prompted memories of lazy summers in the sun. Frontwoman Ophelia engaged with the crowd with a huge smile on her face, and the rest of her band were clearly enjoying having room to roam on a bigger stage. The harshness of ‘Your Boyfriend’ was softened by Ophelia’s gentle vocals, and the thirty-minute set that Bloxx played was interesting and commendable for a band beginning to break out of their corner of the country.

Following the Wombats from Liverpool was the relatively new band, The Night Café (7). They played a gentle, atmospheric intro before launching into ‘The Way of Mary’. With a familiar indie/pop vibe, it was easier for the gathered crowd to enjoy and understand the music, and there were many fans who already knew the words to sing along. With a sound similar to that of The Mystery Jets and an easy, enjoyable vibe, The Night Café quickly had the whole room bopping along to their tunes. Their latest single ‘Turn’ was catchy and heartfelt, and frontman Sean Martin had a look of serious concentration on his face throughout. The confidence and capability of the band proved them worthy of the attention they’re getting, and fans and critics alike are looking forward to a full-length release from them in the future.

The Wombats (7) were the stars of the show in Cardiff, and as the lights dipped, the excitement levels rose as the crowd pressed closer together. Launching straight into ‘Cheetah Tongue’, The Wombats immediately caused a ruckus; beer went flying, people were pushing and shoving, and 1500 voices joined Matthew Murphy as he started singing the chorus. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life received plenty of praise after release, and after seeing the songs played live, it’s easy to see why; the tracks were polished, perfected and timed to fit with animations on a big screen. This was a stark contrast to the songs from The Wombats first album, which were messy and filled with youthful fun. ‘Kill the Director’ saw wall to wall dancing, but this energy dissipated when the band played ‘Black Flamingo’. It seemed that most of the crowd only knew the biggest hits and singles with radio play, so during the lesser known songs, many were stood stock still taking photos and videos.

Bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen encouraged jumping and clapping, and energy levels quickly rose for ‘Moving to New York’ and ‘Lethal Combination’. Frontman Matthew shared the information that A Guide of Love, Loss, and Desperation, The Wombats’ debut, was recorded in Monmouth with a choir from a local school, and he invited some of the original choir onto stage to sing ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’. As one of The Wombats’ most popular songs, it saw every person joining in and enjoying themselves for a last hurrah before the lights went down.

After a short while of uncomfortable cheering, The Wombats stormed back onto stage to play an encore. ‘Turn’ and ‘Tokyo’ were played, but attention was taken away from the music by giant balloons released into the audience. Despite gimmicks and attempts to become an Instagrammable band, The Wombats played a high-energy set filled with songs to appeal to fans of all albums. Alongside a packed venue and an enthusiastic crowd, the atmosphere made for a pretty perfect night. The Wombats left the stage sweaty and exhausted, and the crowd left the venue beer-soaked and elated after a night of cracking live music.

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