Highlighting a newfound intimacy in times of social distancing
Hannah Browne
08:32 20th March 2020

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2020 has seen it all. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten live music on an international scale, last night (19 March) offered warm respite in the form of Love Fame Tragedy opening a new ‘venue’, aka his living room. 

Of course, we all know this alias as Matthew ‘Murph’ Murphy – frontman of indie-sweethearts The Wombats – and now there is a new reason to adore him. Accompanied by a plush Sesame Street Elmo ‘drinking’ from a red cup, a roaring open fire, paper chain garlands, a dog and a baby, Murph’s side project treated loyal fans to an hour-long set of both new and old tracks. 

Announcing the stream via socials a day before, he said: “it feels like a weird time to be promoting music so I thought I’d use my EP release party as an opportunity to do some good! I’ll be live streaming on Facebook tomorrow at 20:00GMT and raising donations for United Way. Come join me for some light in these dark times”.

The Wombats have always incorporated a dose of irony with their indie-pop-bops, but the lyrical content often deals with the gloomier (or more real) sides of life. Love Fame Tragedy exhibits this no differently when facing a virtual audience. Fun to the core but also acutely poignant, Murph’s panoramic vocals triumph over his acoustic guitar. ‘Multiply’, which launched just an hour ahead with playback on Radio 1’s Future Sounds with Annie Mac, offered a celebratory spirit; whilst ‘Riding a Wave’ was pertinent for its namesake as the world swims in uncharted waters.

With comments loading in real-time, Murph responded to demand by giving fans an intimate performance of The Wombats’ ‘Turn’ and ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ to close. The latter raised a familiar, time-honoured buzz, yet singing “everything is going wrong, but we’re so happy” to a live international Facebook audience feels extraordinarily meta.

If home-gigs are to become the new status quo, the attraction comes from seeing much-loved musicians performing in a low-stakes fashion. As Murph bumbled around, it was the tinny but charming sound, lagging feedback and overly yellow socks that highlight a newfound intimacy in times of social distancing. Plus, approximately $350 was fundraised in the process. Good stuff!

You can watch the whole Love Fame Tragedy performance below!

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Photo: Press