Risking life and limb in the line of duty, Getintothis’ John Gibbons wades into the chaos at The Wombats’ jam-packed comeback at The Magnet.
We were thinking on the brisk walk up Hardman Street to Magnet that The Wombats are surely the most successful Liverpool band since the early 2000s Deltasonic/Bandwagon scene exploded. With a UK number three album this decade, and decent sales abroad too, they’ve succeeded where other more tipped Merseyside acts have fallen short.
So with this in mind have they been embraced by the city’s music scene as much as they should be? And if not why? Is it because they seem a bit posh? Have we still got a bit of a cob on with anyone from LIPA? Is it because we’re all jealous they’ve been on Neighbours? Or did they not play The Zanzibar to 10 people enough for our liking?
We don’t know. We’re not here to answer the big questions tonight. But we do learn that many of their early gigs to 10 people actually came here at the Magnet, during one of the venues many previous periods of having a bit of a go at putting on gigs. Which is why, for their warm up show before a US tour, they ask EVOL to put them on here.
We’re very rarely in Magnet this early and sober, and it allows time to appreciate the faded cinematic charms of the venue much more. It’s also rammed to the rafters, with 300 lucky ticket holders crammed on the dance floor and 100 blaggers and writers stood at the bar at the back.
When the band come out, rapturously welcomed like returning heroes, it quickly becomes apparent that those of us trying to look cool at the back can neither see nor hear. The sound doesn’t seem to want to go past the semi partition in front of us, and we can’t see singer Matthew Murphy’s head because there is a massive disco ball in the way.
As they race through a set peppered with hits from their first two albums (Moving to New York comes early, Let’s Dance to Joy Division comes late) we find ourselves more people watching than partaking, buzzing off the kids down the front who clearly didn’t get the ‘we aren’t proud enough of The Wombats’ memo and feeling sorry for the photographers who were hanging off the sides trying to get a decent angle of the stage. But soon we realise this sort of passive involvement isn’t fair on you, the reader, who deserve better. As a wise man once said, ask not what Getintothis can do for you, but what you can do for Getintothis. So abandoning coat and partner, we venture forward.
It wasn’t easy. We were started on by a minder for a camera man (because, you know, gigs are to be filmed not enjoyed by those there), but after a series of ducking, diving and apologies we find ourselves in an area that can accurately be described as ‘in amongst it’. The sound quality is instantly better. Like someone has opened the door of a party and let you inside. But my, it’s bumpy and sweaty.
The crowd goes rightly wild for perfect pop tune Kill the Director and we find ourselves with a lad in an Efes Pils t-shirt on top of us. Murph sings the opening line “I’ve met someone who makes me feel seasick” and we think “I know how you feel mate.” We last about three songs before finding a more age appropriate space just in front of the sound desk which allows us to see and hear, and less likely to break any noses.
For the first time in this space we can see how much the band are enjoying it. ‘Come back’ gigs for bands are nervy affairs, playing new material after a long break too. But each song, either familiar or not, is received with cheers, whoops and flailing limbs. In particular they must have been heartened by how many had learnt the words to new single Greek Tragedy in a matter of days.
They’ll be back in Liverpool in April at the much larger 02 Academy. But they’d proved at The Magnet that they are still writing killer pop songs, and they still sound great playing them. Even if you had to put your body on the line to appreciate it fully.
Photos by Getintothis’ Martin Waters.