Wombats at Fine Line Music Cafe
Barns Courtney Setlist
10/15/2018 Marathon Music Works Nashville, TN
10/16/2018 The Mill & Mine Knoxville, TN
10/18/2018 The National Richmond, VA
10/19/2018 The Fillmore Philadelphia, PA
10/20/2018 Rams Head Live! Baltimore, MD
10/22/2018 Port City Music Hall Portland, ME
10/23/2018 College Street Music Hall New Haven, CT
10/24/2018 House Of Blues Boston, MA
10/26/2018 Corona Theatre Montreal, QC
10/30/2018 Terminal 5 New York, NY
02/01/2019 SSE Arena, Wembley London, UK
A night of lemons and honey--
The interestingly titled new album, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life (Kobalt Records) from alt-pop trio The Wombats, brought them back to Minneapolis, to headline a radio-sponsored sold-out Go Show at the Fine Line Music Cafe.
The event was one in a series of shows brought in by local alternative radio station Go96.3, which helps foster fan support for up-and-coming bands, as well as station favorites (The Wombats had previously been part of a winter-themed Go Show at Northrop Auditorium in 2015).
Rising singer-songwriter Barns Courtney opened the evening with a spirited half-hour opening set that left him completely drenched at the end of things. New full-length is due soon on Virgin Records, but in the meantime, Courtney has released various singles and has both a lyrical sensitivity and a big room stomp sound to his songs, which include radio-friendly songs, ‘99’, ‘Glitter & Gold’, and ‘Fire’ (which first caught on in the Bradley Cooper-as-chef movie, Burnt).
“You guys are pretty saucy!” Courtney exclaimed dousing himself with water bottles for the final two numbers, the new ‘Kicks’, and ‘Fire’ which found everyone clapping along in double-time and singing along, as Courtney got the crowd to crouch low before all jumped up excitedly for the song’s crescendo.
With a backdrop of the new album cover, The Wombats emerged for their eighty-minute set, beginning with the heartbeat intro sound of the new album’s opening ‘Cheetah Tongue’ immediately going next into an arresting ‘Give Me a Try’ from 2015’s previous album, Glitterbug.
After some time off, the formerly Liverpool-based trio needed some triangulation logistics (singer Murph is recently married and living in LA, bassist Tord Knudsen has a family in Oslo, and drummer Dan Haggis is settled in London) to all come together, but their playing remains solid despite their distance, and the songs still have their distinctive hummable hooks and choruses amid Murph’s anxious and often somber tragi-comic lyrics.
‘Black Flamingo’ with its comfort in dysfunction, was paired live with the social awkwardness of ‘White Eyes’ before things turned more electronic again with 2011’s ‘Techno Fan’. The new album’s first single, ‘Lemon to a Knife Fight’ is an ideal bit of buzzpop about Murph’s place in relationships, and was one the first of a few lemon-themed songs of the set.
New single ‘Bee-Sting’ (which will be available on the upcoming deluxe version of the new record), with its lyrics, “You drive me crazier that a wingless bee, you drive me crazier than I ought to be” also prompted some on-stage conversation about what honey actually is (i.e. If it’s a fruit or a pollen, prompting shouted theories and drummer Haggis searching his phone).
‘Pink Lemonade’ (another lemon-themed song) had to be re-started due to all the honey talk, but Murph quickly got back on track, with the new album’s ‘Dip You in Honey’ sadly not played, as it would have completed the night’s theme. Murph also alluded to the so-called Minnesota Nice demeanor, mentioning one of his good friends in LA, is originally from the area, and so overtly and genuinely pleasant, he wasn’t sure he could trust him at first.
‘Jump into the Fog’ ended with an extra bit of instrumental bombast, with drummer Haggis mentioning it might have been from the influence of seeing Metallica headline in Austin over the weekend, and their informal stuffed animal mascot, Steve the Squirrel was introduced before the main set-closing ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’.
The three-song encore began with Haggis reading the crowd the dictionary definition of honey, before Murph cut him off (“we could be here all night…!”) with the straight-ahead new love song that is ‘Turn’. The synth intro of ‘Tokyo’ found everyone clapping along and before some last trivia about honey from Haggis, ‘Greek Tragedy’ ended the evening with Murph emoting, “I love this feeling but I hate this part, I wanted this to work so much”.
With their fourth full-length, The Wombats are showing a musical maturity not seen before, making lemonade out of any lemons and taking influence from the three corners of the globe each member is based in- the result is something that is musically sweet, viscous, and irresistible – honey.
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