Live: The Wombats / Stone

The Wombats deliver one of the best shows in this neck of the woods for ages (Picture: Jan Kelly)
The Wombats deliver one of the best shows in this neck of the woods for ages (Picture: Jan Kelly)

UEA, Norwich October 25, 2022

by Paul Hammerton

If the advertised opening act Dellaxoz did take to the stage tonight, it was while most of the sell-out crowd were still queuing outside.

So it’s left for Stone to get things off to a frantic start for most of us.

Stone get things off to a frantic start (Picture: Jan Kelly)
Stone get things off to a frantic start (Picture: Jan Kelly)

This Liverpudlian four-piece are ably lead by Finlay Power, who combines a fine voice with a nice line in poetry reminiscent of the great Dr John Cooper Clarke.

A string of catchy tunes with lyrics relevant to our current economic woes is the perfect warm-up for the main act.

Stone: The perfect warm-up set (Picture: Jan Kelly)
Stone: The perfect warm-up set (Picture: Jan Kelly)

The Wombats launch themselves on stage with a burst of pyrotechnics, worthy of an arena gig, and straight into a high-energy rendition of Moving To New York.

Throughout the evening, frontmen Matthew Murphy and Tord Øverland Knudsen judge the mood perfectly and take us on a rollercoaster journey of frenzied dance interspersed with more reflective tracks.

The Wombats' Tord Øverland Knudsen (Picture: Jan Kelly)
The Wombats’ Tord Øverland Knudsen (Picture: Jan Kelly)

The Wombats remain as exciting on stage as they were 15 years back when they visited the city on the NME Rock ‘n’ Roll Riot Tour, and kudos goes to the venue for attracting them to Norwich on this eight-date All The Hits Tour (and to the desk, who produce an excellent sound all night).

New tracks are greeted with the same acclaim as the early classics, and a look round shows that The Wombats continue to attract new fans.

Dan Haggis of The Wombats (Picture: Jan Kelly)
Dan Haggis of The Wombats (Picture: Jan Kelly)

We have moments of comedy as a giant wombat dressed in a green sequin jacket invades the stage for some trombone accompaniment.

An attempt at the a cappella Tales Of Boys, Girls And Marsupials, introduced by drummer Dan Haggis, borders on the shambolic but shows the fun the three-piece still have.

Matthew Murphy at the UEA (Picture: Jan Kelly)
Matthew Murphy at the UEA (Picture: Jan Kelly)

We all know that Let’s Dance To Joy Division must appear in the encore, but the explosion of energy at the opening chords remains a joy to behold. That a 15-year-old song can sound so fresh and get absolutely everybody in the sold-out crowd dancing is a tribute to the band’s performance tonight, while the presence of six king-size dancing wombats on stage once again shows that they continue not to take themselves too seriously.

It’s unlikely there have been many more triumphant shows here since before lockdown brought everything to a halt.

The Wombats are as exciting today as during their early days (Picture: Jan Kelly)
The Wombats are as exciting today as during their early days (Picture: Jan Kelly)

And with red and white paper hearts fired into the air during the finale, Turn, one line seems highly appropriate: “It won’t get better than this”.

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