Live review: Los Campesinos, O2 Academy

Posted on 13 February 2010
By Amy Roberts
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Last time we saw Los Campesinos live, there was a great deal of buzz surrounding their now anthemic boogie-tasm tune You! Me! Dancing! and the audience was made up of Skins-lite teenagers hepped up on Lambrini and White Lightening determined to make us feel older than we needed to and too intimated to dance.

Within the space of a couple of years, Los Campesinos – and their audience too, it would seem – have matured into quite the collective of intelligent smile pushing indie-pop masters. Gone is the Lambrini and the White Lightening. In it’s place is a band rider full of organic food and herbal tea.

Except there’s been a terrible mix-up – Tinchy Strider is playing the main room at the O2 Academy tonight just downstairs, and him and his ‘crew’ have somehow wound up with the Campesinos rider.

Los Campesinos vocalist Gareth bemoans in a barely decipherable low mumbling drone the fact that a member of Tinchy Striders crew have pissed in his pack of special herbal tea. ‘I like to drink it before I go onstage…you know, cause I’m trying to be like a good vocalist these days and so, yeah, no herbal tea for me’, he winces mockingly like the kid in school who’s had his Kit-Kat chunky had out of his lunch box and is trying hard not to cry about it.

Aaw. And so begins the loveliness that is a Los Campesinos live show – abound with raw teenage angst, some fantastically well written self-deprecating lyrics and walls of irresistible pop-noise that the crowd bops and bounds about to throughout.

The audience is fanatical, singing / screaming along with every song, their fists passionately pounding the air. Their fans believe in Los Campesinos, obsessively, irrevocably, and it’s easy to see why.

When ‘Straight In At 101’ is played, the lyrics are vastly anthemic (‘We need more post-coitus and less post rock’), and it’s impossible not to smile along, particularly when it’s sublimely Philip Larkin-esque ending finally hits, seeing Gareth prosaically pronouncing how his heartache wasn’t featured on the 100 most heart-wrenching break ups of all time over the top of some simple, thrumming guitar. (‘Imagine the great sense of waste/ the indignity/ the embarrassment/ when not a single one of them was mine’). Amazing.

They play a number of songs off latest album Romance Is Boring, and their sound is veering deliciously close to Hefner territory these days, particularly on tracks Who Fell Asleep In and new single Romance Is Boring, in which lyrics are performed with the vocal equivalent of an eye rolling at unachievable love affairs and doomed, lackluster coupledom.

The septet do struggle somewhat with sound quality though (what’s going on with sound engineers lately?) – which sees some of the best lyrics totally drowned out by an inconceivably loud bass. The audience is so plentiful and crammed into the auditorium that you can barely see the stage, and so it isn’t until about 5 songs into the set that you realise Oh Yeah, There’s A Violinist Playing With Them Too, which is a real shame since when the violin can actually be heard it adds a resonating sad face and spiraling intensity to songs.

You! Me! Dancing! of course makes a bat-shit excited appearance towards the end of the set, announcing itself with a teasing foreplay of rattling, scuzzy, noise – the crowd baiting hungrily for it’s blood by clapping uproariously along before breaking out into a mass jive of intensely joyous arse-shaking and limb convulsing when the opening riff finally kicks in.

They end with an endearing amount of humility, thanking the crowd again and again for coming to see them – ‘This is the second best thing we could be doing, and we’re so happy to be able to do it. None of us are any good at football to be doing the first best’, Gareth beams appreciatively before the band slam into Sweet Dreams, Sweet Dreams, seeing the Campesinos frontman jumping straight into the front of the crowd to hive five and love.

A everlasting queue forms at the merch table following the show, with Gareth stood at the side thanking and hugging each individual person for attending, and signing vinyls and cd’s happily. It’s a rare and lovely thing to witness, especially since the fans are so truly grateful to meet him and thank him for a show they’re ear to ear grinning over.

Somewhere downstairs, Tinchy Strider and his mates are probably flinging out piss soaked ginseng and blackcurrent tea bags as souvenirs to the red eyed masses gathering by the stage door to meet him.

Gutted. Luckily for Los Campesinos, the bereft aid of a couple of herbal tea bags did nothing to sully what was a perfect Friday night performance. Piss in all the boxes of tea you want, Strider, but you wont stop Los Campesinos from pissing all over your live show. And that is fucking science FACT.

Los Campesinos Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/loscampesinos

Los Campesinos Lastfm: http://www.last.fm/music/Los%2520Campesinos!?ac=los%20campe

Buy Romance Is Boring: http://tinyurl.com/ygekguo