The Wombats + Support @ The 02 Apollo
The Wombats are quickly becoming one of the UK’s most recognised Indie Rock bands in the UK, and without a doubt is a well-deserved accolade for the band. Having seen their live performance multiple times, it’s obvious to me that these boys are hard working and dedicated, through good and bad.
Having only released three full-length albums, with most recent being this year’s Glitterbug, The Wombats have come a long way since their first album A Guide To Love, Loss & Desperation, and still have far to go in their musical career. But their solid live performances and strong fan base just shows that with a little more blood sweat and tears they will without a doubt be remembered as a band that made a statement for the Indie Rock scene.
The first support band is The Night Cafe, a Liverpudlian four piece band that formed in 2014. Although a relatively new band, being given the opportunity to play with a band from their hometown of Liverpool is a big deal for them. With a much more mellow sound listening to them was a nice alternative to The Wombats intensity. They could be compared to Swim Deep, a Birmingham beach-pop band well known in Manchester. Whilst looking across the venue, with bodies swaying, it would appear the band had won over the packed out Apollo crowd. Even though their lack of audience interaction was a downer, their performance as musicians had no faults. The only words came from their front man, “Nice one Manchester”. Over all, The Night Cafe provided a spot on set.
The second support act is Reading formed band Sundara Karma, who already have a small following in these parts. Walking on stage like it’s just another day in the office, they kick of their set with Freshbloom, a song of their 2015 EP EPI. With a half responsive crowd, singer/guitarist Oscar shouts “You ready Manchester?” before playing Flame.
Sundara Karma have much more energy on stage than The Night Cafe, but musically equally as good. Another quick look across the venue shows fans dying to burst into dance as the band jam out their extremely upbeat Indie rock sound. Listening to them, you almost feel as if you have been transported onto a Caribbean island beach, no complaints there.
Coming to the end of their set, Oscar warns the crowd “This is your last chance to embarrass yourself and dance”. When a Mancunian crowd is challenged like this they don’t let down under any condition. Sundara Karma start playing their final and probably most recognized song Loveblood. As the chorus tune starts, the crowd finally gets heated with a group of young fans showing them how dancing is done, ‘moshing’, jumping and lots of chanting. It’s a great reaction to their set and seriously warming up the crowd before The Wombats head on stage. Sundara Karma play Manchester Soup Kitchen on the 24th October.
During the build-up there were various chants echoing across the venue, you could easily mistake it for a Manchester United Vs Liverpool football game, but don’t be fooled, it’s just a good ‘ol Wombats gig.
It strikes 9:15, the house lights dim and a roar could be heard from the assembled crowd, finally it’s time for Liverpool trio The Wombats to hit the stage, and Manchester could not be any more ready to explode!
As they spring on stage the crowd surges forward as front man Murph shouts “MANCHESTER” and the band launch straight into Give Me A Try from Glitterbug. The place erupts into madness and every person attending, standing or seated, was bouncing along.
A few songs in and the crowd was already drenched in sweat, the band begin playing Moving To New York and it was mind-blowingly clear this was one of the fans favourite songs. In Manchester Rocks style, the crowd opens up wider and wider leaving an empty space in the middle of the venue. “LETS DO THIS” Murph shouts to the crowd, the chorus kicks in and the empty space is quickly filled with bouncing and pushing fans yelling along to the lyrics.
When people think of Indie bands, they don’t usually relate it to a crowd that likes to get sweaty, but the fans prove them wrong. Every opportunity the crowd got, they bounced and moshed away the 19 song set. But the night wasn’t all about dancing, The Wombats leave the stage for a short while, probably to catch their breath and take in the over whelming reaction of the crowd. The lights rise and Murph walks back onto the stage standing still at the centre, looking across the venue for a split second before beginning to play Isobel. Another cut from Glitterbug, it is one of their most mellow songs they have produced to date and the high-energy crowd comes to a stand still. Raising their phone lights in the air lighting up the Manchester Apollo like a full moon.
However, they didn’t allow the crowd to stand still for too long, during a quick guitar change, the other members Dan (drums) and Tord (Bass) returned to the stage, looking out to the ocean of cheering fans. The chaos and dancing in the crowd returns as the next song Greek Tragedy starts.
Coming to the end of their set, The Wombats play one of their most popular songs Lets Dance to Joy Division. Unexpectedly bassist Tord jumps into the crowd mid-song treating the barrier fans to an up close and personal experience before jumping back on stage and rolling around before picking back up his bass and cracking on with the last part of the song. Sounding like a karaoke bar, the crowd screams the lyrics back to the band in sync whilst the centre of the venue is turned into a tornado of fans pushing and jumping into each other, a typical expectation of a crowd at one of their gigs.
Just as we think this is the end of the set Murph shouts, “This riff is called Untitled”. What we got was two minutes of a chaotic riff, not usually what you’d expect to hear them play, but they made it work. Bassist Tord clearly loves playing live as he swings his bass across the stage like a baseball bat running from left to right, and the crowd copying his actions like a game of Simon says. “Have we got one more round, Manchester” Murph says before kicking back into the riff, for the last time of the night, the crowd explodes into a chaotic whirlwind, sweat flying across the venue like a thick mist of water.
On reflection, The Wombats played what was quite easily one of the best gigs of 2015.
Words: Cai Dixon