The Wombats with Barns Courtney
New York, NY
October 30, 2018
The Wombats are currently touring behind their fourth U.S. album Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (Bright Antenna, 2018). The English band was formed in Liverpool in 2003 and is composed of lead vocalist and guitarist Matthew Murphy, drummer Dan Haggis and bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen.
During the course of its career, The Wombats have released Girls, Boys and Marsupials (released only in Japan in 2006), A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation (14th Floor, 2007), This Modern Glitch (Bright Antenna, 2011) and Glitterbug (Bright Antenna, 2015) and have sold over 1 million albums worldwide. The Wombats are, arguably, Britain’s best kept alternative/power-pop secret.
Barns Courtney is an English born, singer songwriter who was raised from the age of 4 in Seattle, WA. Courtney and his family returned to the UK when he was 15. He has resided there and pursued his musical career ever since.
On a cool Halloween eve night at New York City’s Terminal 5, with many members of the sold-out crowd dressing in festive costumes, Courtney and his band began the evening’s festivities with a fantastic, but unfortunately short seven-song set. The set was highlighted by “Glitter & Gold” (the opening theme music from the Michael C. Hall Netflix series Safe) and “Fire,” the closing credit tune from that series, which has also been used in TV commercials for Cadillac.
Courtney’s performance was perfect. It was powerful and raw. The music was pounding and rhythmic. The vocals were savage, ferocious and soulful. The songs exuded a down-home bluesy feeling as the band tore through the roots tunes. The crowd was immediately drawn to Courtney’s electrifying persona. He and his band were the ideal warm-up for an evening of driving rock.
Following a short intermission, the Wombats took the stage. The band’s set-up included a redesigned logo draping the back of the stage. The new, Halloween-only logo featured a black background with large cat’s head drawn in white. Each member of the band wore cat’s ears and on this evening they called themselves “The Womcats.” Murphy took the fun even further than his bandmates. He wore a black jumpsuit that sported a flowing black tail and black furry boots.
When The Wombats took the stage, the crowd exploded. The band started out with “Cheetah Tongue” and delivered an eclectic mix of old and new tunes visiting each of the band’s releases. The audience was treated to a fantastic light show and a driving witty 16-song main set of tunes that feature terrific riffs and sing-along choruses. Highlights of the main set included: “Patricia The Stripper” (from Girls, Boys and Marsupials), “Moving to New York” (from A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation), “Give Me A Try,” with the “We could be gigantic” lyric (from Glitterbug), “1996” and Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)” (from This Modern Glitch), “I Don't Know Why I Like You But I Do” and “Lemon to a Knife Fight” (from Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life).
The audience members on the floor crowed their way toward the stage and gave-off an energy not only affected the other audience members in the balcony but the bad as well. The musicians joked with the crowd, bounced, bopped and jumped all over the stage. The audience members smiled from ear-to-ear, danced and pogo-ed their way around the venue.
The main set closed in the traditional Wombatian way—with an energetic version of “Let’s Dance to Joy Division.” The song with it’s “Let’s dance to Joy Division/And raise our glass to the ceiling/‘Cause this could all go so wrong/But we’re so happy” lyrics seems to nicely and simply sum up the music, attitude and ethos of The Wombats. The encores were the lyrically rich “Turn” (from Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life) and “Greek Tragedy,” a tune that details the crazy and complicated adventures of the song’s main character and his girl, (from Glitterbug).
And…as quickly as the evening began, it ended. The band left the stage and the audience members held-out for one more song. Sadly it wasn’t to be. The lights came up and the audience members (many of whom were dressed in Halloween costumes, crowded the merchandise table looking for CDs and the perfect t-shirt, poster or baseball cap.
Photo Credit : Christine Connallon