The Holloways, The Wombats

Paul Cook 20/09/2007

Opening to the excitable Cambridge crowd packed inside the intimate Junction venue was Medway-born folk rocker Tom Hull, better known as Kid Harpoon, and his band The Powers That Be. They gave an instantly exhilarating rendition of tracks including the quirky crowd pleaser “Milkmaid” and the gentler “Flowers by the Shore.” Kudos for the effort, but at times the vocals and drums were overpowered by the smashing of the guitar strings. Nevertheless, the now-Holloway-dwelling Kid Harpoon did exactly what was expected of him, pumping the crowd up ready for Liverpudlian three-piece The Wombats.

And there it was. The unruly head of hair donned by lead singer “Murph” emerging through the smoke whilst the comically tense narration to the story of The Wombats was told over the loudspeaker. Opening with a number of thunderous, high-tempo favourites including “Derail and Crash” and “Moving to New York” this ambitious and rather fired up three piece really do pack a punch live. Matthew Murphy's passionate vocal performance and stage presence brilliantly bounced off Norwegian bassist Tord's enigmatic additions. It was only when new track, “Let's Dance to Joy Division” was the next song on the agenda that the crowd got extremely excited. This new track is as fantastic live as it is on CD, with simple drum thumps and indie guitar riffs allowing Murph to deliver the sing-a-long vocals perfectly. By this point a crowd-surfer is sailing over the top of the crowd to the front of the stage every few minutes and The Wombats have quite sufficiently stirred the already animated crowd ready for the main act of the night, The Holloways.

After a short break The Holloways arrive on stage to announce they, like The Wombats, have never played in Cambridge before, “so let's make it a good one!” To kick it off the north London four-piece play a rousing rendition of “Fuck Ups” sending the audience into ecstasy. Despite The Holloways being the headline band, The Wombats had set a high benchmark to follow. Introduced as “a song about where you are”, Alfie Jackson ignites one of the crowd favourites “Dancefloor” with a heavy indie riff and infectious lyrics. Soaking up the frenetic atmosphere inside the Cambridge Junction, The Holloways give a fantastic performance throughout the night, performing “Diamonds and Pearls”, “Malcontented One” and “Reinvent Myself” with particular proficiency. A few songs later and the gentle but gradually soaring riff of “Two Left Feet” continues the quality.

The closing tracks of the set end the night on a high with the ska riffs of “Fit for a Fortnight” sounding brilliantly crisp, and then the patriotic indie rock-a-long of “So, This Is Great Britain” leading up to chart hit “Generator.” This was probably expected to have been the highlight of the night but it was far from it. The Wombats' “Let's Dance to Joy Division” and The Holloways' “Reinvent Myself” were fine examples of these two bands' talent. It must be said, around a quarter of the crowd left before the band had finished, promptly after “Generator”, the fickleness of which put a dampener on what was a dazzling display of live indie, rock and pop.