Certain occasions feel like they were destined – that perfect coming together of right band, right time and right place. Nearly 20 years into their career, The Wombats have become go-to party starters with an ever-growing legion of fans. With their first-ever Number 1 album ‘Fix Yourself, Not The World’ arriving earlier this year, a crowning moment feels both long-overdue and perfectly timed. The Wombats taking over The O2 on a sizzling hot Good Friday? There might not be a better combination going.
Owning a support slot at The O2 isn’t new ground for Sports Team. When they opened for Two Door Cinema Club back in 2019, it served as another tick on a ridiculous journey to become one of the biggest new bands in the land. Tonight, the Sports Team that step on stage are far above that; their next chapter is laid out in all its appetising glory.
‘Happy (God’s Own Country)’, ‘Camel Crew’, ‘Going Soft’, and ‘M5’ are all served up with an added swagger, but the new cuts point best to Sports Team mk.2. The first taste of second album ‘Gulp!’, ‘R Entertainment’ feels like classic Sports Team, while ‘The Drop’ could very well be their most ambitious cut to date. Purpose-built for something bigger, whether it’s shouting out crypto companies and ‘oil lads’ owning private boxes around the venue or jumping into the crowd, Alex Rice leads the Team through another notable set.
If you’ve ever doubted the Church Of The Wombats, all you need is 10 minutes nestled in The O2, and you’ll know exactly why they continue to rise and rise: tonight is a bonafide party for a band who’ve grafted every step of the way. The blistering opening run of ‘Flip Me Upside Down’ and ‘This Car Drives All By Itself’ prove just how all-engulfing their career has been to date, with crowds drowning out the band as they sing along. When ‘Moving To New York’ arrives three songs in, it rips The O2 into absolute bits.
The Wombats never click pause from start to finish. ‘Cheetah Tongue’, ‘Give Me A Try’ and ‘Pink Lemonade’ capture something universal. That razor-sharp knack to grab euphoric indie-pop hooks and turn them into festival-filling anthems mixed with something quite simple: fun. From the unrelenting limbs and launched drinks that fly through the sky to ‘Kill The Director’, all the way to the knockout selection of ‘If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You’, ‘Emoticons’ and ‘Lemon To A Knife Fight’, they’re a band laser-focused. ‘Jump Into The Fog’ and ‘Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)’ sound bigger than ever before. By the time ‘Greek Tragedy’ rings out, the main set coated in a shower of pyrotechnics, they’ve served up the sort of Friday night that the preceding “Good” really understates.
Reaching this landmark isn’t lost on the band either. As Murph reflects on playing their first London show almost 15 years ago and tonight being 20 years in the making (as well as his daughter’s first-ever Wombats show), it’s a full-circle moment. A band who’ve done things their way, creating indie bangers to soundtrack the joy of everyday life, it’s a case of hard work paying off big-time. With an encore including ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ and ‘Method To The Madness’, it’s also a sign that The Wombats continue to deliver that soundtrack to this day. The people’s true headliners, there may not be a more fun night going than the one you spend with The Wombats.