The Liverpool lads warmed the crowd with “Our Perfect Disease,” charming instantly with a light-hearted flirt of a song, and keeping a steady pace with “Kill The Director” and “Girls/Fast Cars” before slowing things down with “Jump Into the Fog.” The band early on represented both fast and slow songs well, claiming versatility and audio charisma that fans of music only find in a rare instance. Ultimately, Wombats fans were pumped for “Techno Fan,” “1996” and show closer “Tokyo (Vampires & Werewolves)” because they were more fun to dance to.
The songs comprising most of the Wombats’ set were from latest The Wombats Present: This Modern Glitch, but fans who’d been around a while seemed to really enjoy “Moving to New York” and “Kill the Director” over newer material. There was something in it for virtually everyone.
The Wombats’ Park West show wasn’t thoroughly heartwarming with character, but it became apparent that The Wombats’ personality had a tendency of showing through the words in their songs. Donning a banner with personalized handwriting-style expressively youthful typography and three discs of material, the band used their own brand to let their personality shine. Aside from bassist Tord Overland’s way of bouncing about the stage with his grin (which, though genuine, was usually paired with some crazy-eyed audience contact), the band, at times, looked like they were simply trying to fulfill a routine and get on with it.
It’s just a shame that singer Matthew Murphy didn’t crack a smile at any point in the 15-song set, even after a mildly encouraged encore. Perhaps that’s what a few steady years of touring will bring you: pure exhaustion. Yet, it’s hard to not take it personally. The band’s performance was on point but their stage presence was dismal. Chicago expected more from the trio in the personality department.
Though the night was void of animation and pizzazz, no fan could walk away from The Wombats’ Monday night show displeased, given the band’s killer lineup and naturally vibrant live versions of each song. No song was performed differently than it was recorded, but hearing songs like “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” or “Techno Fan” live is simply exhilarating.
The show wasn’t fulfilled until the band came back for an encore, performing “Anti-D” with ease and later inspiring a full-on dance fit for “Let’s Dance to Joy Division,” where even the seated population at Park West’s anterior was motivated jump to their feet.
Given that the band constructs songs that are almost always chanted when they hit the chorus, allowing even the worst singers in the crowd to pretend it was written for him or her to sing. It doesn’t leave much room to complain, either, because the tunes are all written partially in jest, with a hint of sarcasm or satire in each melody that really can’t be argued with.
Another benefit of seeing The Wombats live is being able to see the impressive vocal work—including Murphy, Overland and drummer Dan Higgis—in action, filling in the spaces during electric verses choruses. It’s a treat for any fan of music to see The Wombats in person, and their April 30th show was still no exception.
The Wombats at Park West on April 30, 2012 setlist:
“Our Perfect Disease”
“Kill the Director”
“Jump Into The Fog”
“Schumacher the Champagne”
“Last Night I Dreamt…”
“Lost in the Post”
“Little Miss Pipedream”
“Moving to New York”
“My First Wedding”
- “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)”
- “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”