Gig review: The Wombats at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Twelve years after they first cascaded on to the scene with debut album A Guide To Love Loss and Desperation, Liverpool’s The Wombats bought their grandeur live show to Leeds’ First Direct Arena for a headline performance complete with confetti, balloons and all the hits.

The Wombats

Paying tribute to their early years, frontman Matt Murphy reminisces on their first visit to the city in which they played to just eight people; tonight’s gig could not be any more different.

The trio surge through a gargantuan 21-track set, coalescing some of their earliest hits with a stream of equally appreciated offerings from 2018’s Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life.

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They have their audience in the palm of their hand from the first note to the last, ardently echoing back every single word. Opening number ‘Cheetah Tongue’ leads into ‘Moving To New York’, arguably one of the bands’ defining songs and evidently still one of their most loved.

What is most endearing about The Wombats, and perhaps even the key to their unconquerable success, is their energetic aura and the sense of fun that seems to effortlessly emanate; ‘Lemon To a Knife Fight’, ‘I Don’t Know Why I Like U’ and ‘Pink Lemonade’, which the band fondly refer to as the “Citrus Trio”, is evidence not only of this but of their impressive musical capabilities and eccentric flair for songcraft.

The visuals throughout are just as astounding as the music itself, and the band are visibly at ease in an arena set up; despite tonight being such a career defining moment, they remain calm, collected and genuinely humbled by the prodigious appreciation shown to them. It’s clear that, even after all these years, their music continues to inspire immense love and loyalty.