When it’s only your second show in 6 months to a packed out Manchester Club Academy the pressures on, but 6 albums into an 11 year career that’s given you multiple line up changes, a performance on Letterman and shows all over the world Los Campesinos! should be used to the pressure by now, right?
Los Campesinos! have dodged Manchester on their last couple of tours and as a self-confessed LC! super fan, that has been incredibly frustrating. But they’re here now in the same building where I saw them for the first time 9 years ago, a gig which for me is still one of the best I’ve experienced. It was the 2008 ‘Shred Yr Face’ tour with support from Times New Viking and No Age, Los Camp hadn’t quite dropped second their record ‘We are Beautiful, We are Doomed’, but nevertheless, this was an awakening in lo-fi for my teenage self.
This time around the crowd has matured along with the music of the band and we settle in, overpriced pints in hand, for a night of songs that have been the soundtrack to our last 10 years. But first support from the fearsome Patty Hearst, post emo fused with the indie riffs that first gave LC! their name, like Tiny Moving Parts with a touch of 2008 indie pop. They’re energetic and bursting at the seams with freshness that comes from a fusion of sounds making them a perfect contribution to the currently thriving Manchester scene.
They’re on, and the unmistakeable ohhhh’s of ‘Renato Dell’Ara’ echo through a crowd that are clearly here for a sing song, and it’s a good thing too as the band swing straight into massive singles ‘Romance is Boring’ before ‘By Your Hand,’ met and equalled by the chorus of the crowd. I’ve already half lost my voice, but they’re not letting up with ‘What Death Leaves Behind’, lead single from fifth album ‘No Blues’ straining me evermore before an energetic rendition of ‘Broke up in Amarante’ marks the start of the ‘Sick Scenes’ segment of the evening. After a couple more tracks off album number six, Los Campesinos! take us all the way back to the first album with ‘Knee Deep at the ATP’, I’ll admit I see a few younger audience members who this seems to be an education for, but for me I’m back upstairs in Academy 3 remembering why I feel in love with this band in the first place.
Cut back to 2017 and ‘Sad Suppers,’ a definite highlight of ‘Sick Scenes.’ As the drums hit the crowd jump, but one of the things that causes this infatuation Los Campesinos! fans have with the band is the lyrics, look around the room at any LC! show and you’d see a venue of all kinds of people in unison screaming every word back to lead singer Gareth. No more so than in tracks like ‘Avocado, Baby’, which also sparks a few interesting dance moves in the crowd, and the epic ‘The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future’ a lyrical anthem that rallies everyone in there to scream with all they have; “But you could never kiss a Tory boy without wanting to cut off your tongue again”. Ending on ‘Baby I Got the Death Rattle’ we go through every emotion like a final goodbye, but as they leave the stage we know there’s an encore in there and we’re not leaving ‘til we get it.
‘The Fall of Home,’ one of the band’s latest singles, fills the room as we welcome them back to the stage softly singing along, then the mood becomes tense as a familiar guitar tone rings out and the dynamic builds. After that riffs been strummed to death and the cymbals are nearly broken, a half pint of flat Budweiser is fittingly knocked out of my hand by a fan bouncing around to ‘You! Me! Dancing!,’ the song I tell my friends they’ll know after they ask who the fuck Los Campesinos! are. It perfectly captures the mood of a night that feels like a celebration of a band and their fans, which ends with the group letting the audience choose their final song. Screaming along to one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite albums, ‘I just sighed…’ finally finishes off my voice along with the gig. In a hit packed set from over ten years worth of material it’s amazing to see this band still resonate with people, the way the music has grown along with the band, and the fans that have grown with the true cult icons.