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Los Campesinos! @ Club Academy, Manchester 18th February Review

Yes yes, following hot on the heels of my demo review for What Would Jesus Drive? Audioscribbler pleasingly added my live review of Los Campesinos!. I have to admit I was a bit sceptical going into the gig but they really pulled it out of the bag and left me grinning from ear to ear- don't worry, a few days surgery should sort out those malfunctioning lips of mine!


Los Campesinos!: Club Academy, Manchester


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Simon Jay Catling

‘Outside of London I think this is the largest amount of people we’ve ever played to’ nervously babbles Gareth Campesinos to a packed out Manchester student union basement, before pausing and adding ‘but London doesn’t count ‘cos its normally shit’ to an enthusiastic response. This shows two things: that the North/South division remains as prominent as ever, and that exciting new upstarts Los Campesinos! already have the knack of pleasing a crowd down to a tee. Gareth has a sore throat tonight by the way, but you’d never think it as he commits himself fully in tonight’s performance that culminates in a rapturous sing along of 2007, The Year Punk Broke (My Heart).

The crowd down the front tonight are…young; there’s no two ways about it. I’m only just out of my teens but I swear there’s a twelve year old standing at the front, such is Los Campesinos! cutesy, pop appeal that appeases younger fans to go with their superior set of discordinate melodies that appeal to the (slightly) older generation. It’s fair to say that most of the crowd come tonight out of curiosity to see just what all the fuss is about and the seven-piece are very much mindful of this as they set about expending every last bit of energy they have on stage. Every member seems to be doing their own thing- guitarists Tom and Ollie hold centre stage bumping into each other whilst keyboardist Aleksandra and bassist Ellen call out vocally to Gareth, whose pretty much everywhere tonight. Meanwhile the violinist plays all by herself on a small corner of the stage, serenely unaware of the chaos going on behind her. It sounds like it should be shambolic, but live it makes for captivating viewing as each band member vies desperately for your attention.

New single Death to Los Campesinos! makes an early appearance on the set list and instantly sets heads bobbing and feet tapping as the crowd begin to warm to the Cardiff-based act’s calculated form of madness and irresistible power pop. The glockenspiel and violin add soft undertones to the dual guitar and driving percussion, whilst Aleksandra and Gareth’s vocals combine effortlessly to showcase a real understanding of each other and also a real contrast of beauty and poise with passion and energy. Other highlights include a pulsating version of Broken Hearts Sound Like Breakbeats and Knee Deep At The ATP, which finally gets the kids jumping about a bit. It’s comparatively older favourite We Throw Parties You Throw Knives that really gets things going though; the first time it’s been played on the tour. Teeny bopping, stage diving and even band member hugging ensue as the adolescents take over the stage in a scene that can’t fail in warming the heart. ‘That was strange’ Gareth claims afterwards in reference to the mad response it receives, ‘we weren’t going to play that any more but I think perhaps we probably should be playing it all the time’. It’s nothing more than they deserve, having had to work hard initially tonight to convince the crowd that they are ‘a good thing’. Finishing the main set with the excellent You! Me! Dancing! the band leave the stage after thanking us for making them ‘feel like a proper band.’

When you look at the current crop of breakthrough acts it really is hard to say at this point in time that you could imagine many of them still to be playing ten years from now, such is the contemporary and of-the-moment type of music they’re putting out. With Los Campesinos! however there’s every chance that they could be still there ten years from now making people grin stupidly and dance even more stupidly. One of the fundamentals in being a successful live act is to look like your genuinely enjoying being on the stage, and with Los Campesinos! there’s no doubt that this is the case. Without sinking into the realms of ‘lad rock’ they really make you feel like your one of them for over an hour and for many of us that really, really is enough.


Los Campesinos!- We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives"

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