This was written for Livewire1350: http://livewire1350.com/los-campesinos-gig-review/
Los Campesinos recently announced a short tour consisting of dates in Manchester, Leeds, Norwich and London. As the band all have 9-5 day jobs, they can’t perform live very often, and it must have been a massive effort to organise, so I felt obliged to go. That and the fact I had only been able to catch ten minutes of them at Reading 2012, which had definitely left me wanting more. Los Campesinos are not your typical band, with seven band members, and have had a few replacement band members over the years. This however didn’t affect their live performance and the group still put on a unified and slick show.
First up was the four-piece consisting of three girls and front man Ellis. Following the trend of bands such as Slaves, they had a stand up drummer, centre stage, who made each song feel more anthem-like with each hit. It was a nice change to see the drummer have more of an interaction with the crowd as you don’t get to see that very often because they are normally hiding at the back of the stage. Ellis carried the band with his high, alternative vocals and conversational lyrics. They did play as if they were still in their parent’s garage still practising for the show, although this added a raw element to the show. It felt very intimate and definitely made me keen to listen to their recordings to see if they can still capture the make-shift feel of their show. They can.
The crowd, made of indie teens high and low, surged forward at the arrival of Los Campesinos, and were greeted by the perfect unconventional front man, Gareth. Joining his was the ever so cool Kim and the many other Campesinos family members. They played songs from all five albums, and even played their new Christmas song – ‘When Christmas Comes’. Highlights for me were easily ‘By Your Hand’ from their 2011 album Hello Sadness, and ‘Romance is Boring’ from the album of the same name. The enthusiasm from the crowd for each and every song was perfectly matched by the confidence of Gareth. When ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ came on, we all knew it was gong to be something special. One enthusiastic fan encouraged everyone to crouch down on the floor for the build-up of an intro, then as soon as the lead guitar kicked in everyone jumped up and danced on.
As the time came for the show to end, they sauntered off for a short break before coming back to the crowd’s shouts. Gareth, being the sassy guy that he is, made us choose two songs for the encore, but completely disagreed with our first choice. They went forward with them both anyway, and even treated us to a third. All in all it was a great evening, with an interesting choice for support act and an impressive line-up of classic indie rock songs that are even better when seen live. We were lucky to see them in such a special venue, which deservedly has just won NME’s prize for Britain’s best small venue.