Los Campesinos!


My mate Danny is a terrible influence on me. By the time we arrive at Sound Control he’s already five pints deep and complaining that it’s £2.50 more on the door than it was in advance. It’s worth it for Trust Fund though. I first saw them play at the Castle as part of the Carefully Planned festival a couple of months ago and was suitably charmed so to see them at a bigger venue and on a well-matched tour with Los Campesinos is very satisfying. Their brand of ever-so-sensitive Allo Darlin’-style indie pop goes down very well, with Gareth Campesinos later declaring them his favourite band in the country at the moment. A noisy crowd’s attention wanders during the quieter sections, drowning them out slightly towards the back of the room, but their ace, Pixies-esque closer brings everyone back on side.

Los Campesinos are touring their new Christmas EP, but you’d hardly know it from the set list. They only played Manchester a year ago in support of their excellent fifth album No Blues, but where the set that night was (understandably) weighted towards their latest, tonight’s is much better balanced. ‘Cemetery Gaits’ is a slightly odd choice of opener but it goes down well, quickly followed by ‘By Your Hand’, the chorus of which I’m more than happy to bellow into Danny’s face. No Blues opener ‘For Flotsam’ is greeted with absolute rapture, but then it is the archetypal Los Camp song; all football analogies and awkward sexual encounters.

The biggest treat of the night is the first ever time the band have played ‘We’ve Got Your Back (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #2)’ live. As way of introduction Gareth explains that they never thought they’d be able to play it (which sends Danny into hysterics), but they needn’t have worried as they more than do it justice. It’s quite a special band that can get an entire room yelling lyrics like “if we didn’t know the shape was for functionality what would we do” back at them, that’s for sure. The room erupts again for early single ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ but the momentum slows when they play two songs from their Christmas EP. What is it that possesses bands to do Christmas records? Maybe we’ll never know. There’s nothing wrong with these two songs but they do stick out like a sore thumb amongst such brilliant, brilliant songwriting. They’re just Los Camp by numbers, which is still better than most bands, don’t get me wrong, but they’re mostly superfluous.

We’re soon back on track though and the absolutely perfect run of four songs to the end couldn’t be better: the title track of underrated second album We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (I’m shouting in Danny’s face about breaking teeth now, of course), the chorus-upon-chorus of the staggeringly good ‘Avocado, Baby’, whose refrain they could extend to an hour and it would still be as thrilling as the first time, the heartbreaking ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’ and the giddy joy of debut album Hold On Now Youngster classic ‘Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks’.

There’s a short break and they return to blast through the ridiculously named pairing of ‘We Exhaled And Rolled Our Eyes In Unison’ and ‘I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know’. Both are strange choices of encores really, the former being a midtempo album track from their debut and the latter a midtempo album track from their third (and, since you asked, my favourite), Romance Is Boring. On record its carousel guitar and keyboard riffs and dreamy vocals work well but as a closer? I’m not sure. Not that it matters, tonight has been an absolute wonder. It’s not just the beer talking, Los Campesinos are the best band in the world right now and tonight is why. Ask Danny, he’ll tell you.

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Andy Vine

Like all cis-male atopic half Welshmen, I'm a big fan of shouty indie, noisy drone and the daytime Radio 1 playlist. Outside of punk rock my primary interests are tea (white no sugar please) and beer (brown no sugar please). When I'm not writing about stuff for Silent Radio I'm occasionally doing my own stuff which you can read about at http://dead-pheasant.blogspot.com if you want (you should).