Los Campesinos return to the Capital to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their third album Romance is Boring. Louder Than War’s Dave Beech was there.
It’s interesting to see just how important to their fans Los Campesinos! have become in recent years. While much of their early contemporaries have either faded into obscurity or gone to top charts and headline festivals, LC! have entrenched themselves in the hearts and minds of their fans old and new, while flying almost under the radar of everyone else.
While the melodrama of their lyrics is certainly an acquired taste, the narratives of love, left-wing politics and mental health have become especially salient over the last few years. And though it’s more recent albums that have addressed these themes more heavily, and tonight is a celebration of ten years of the band’s third album Romance is Boring, it’s also a testament to their fans, and the dedication they inspire in them.
Much like 2018’s celebration of their first two records, tonight is the second of two nights at Islington Assembly Hall and sees the band take on two sets once again. The first of which is the aforementioned Romance is Boring played in full; a rare chance to see tracks hardly played live before and evidence of just how much this record, and indeed this band, mean to the 900 people in attendance.
Arguably the album that took Los Campesinos! from a tongue-in-cheek twee pop band to a genuine force to be reckoned with, Romance is Boring bridges the gap between the anarchic indie pop of the band’s early days with the emotional gravitas of their later releases. Tracks such as ‘There Are Listed Buildings’ and ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ provide early singalongs as if they formed an encore, while “the 90th best emo song of all time” (‘Straight In At 101’) is a welcome addition to any Los Campesinos! show.
For many of us, it’s the record’s more mature tracks which prompt a more personal reaction. ‘The Sea Is A Good Place to Think of the Future’ will never fail to give one goose-bumps, while ‘A Heat Rash…’ is a personal favourite. Perhaps best received, however, is the album’s closing number. ‘Coda: A Burn Scar in the Shape of the Sooner State’ which is rarely played leave and whose refrain echoes around this writer’s head long after the band have left the stage tonight. It’s the perfect close to the evening’s opening half, and those these tracks might be 10 years old, they mean just as much, if not more now, than they did in 2010.
It’s perhaps the second half of the evening in which Los Campesinos! really seem to come into their own. A set understandably, and justifiably, made up of their most recent three albums, it feels darker, and arguably more emotional than the previous, though certainly less nostalgic. The likes of ‘Cemetery Gaits’ and ‘Here’s to the Fourth Time, when compared to those tracks of the previous set, proving just how far the band have come over the course of their career. And while the sugar-sweet indie pop of those days has been eschewed in favour of something ultimately darker and more mature, the tracks themselves are full of unashamed bombast, filling the Grade II listed venue with the kind of polished production rarely seen in such intimate surroundings.
Ending with a three track encore that veers from the tender (‘Fall of Home’ ) to the riotous ‘You, Me, Dancing’, ‘Miserabilia’), it’s the perfect ending to an evening that, like all Los Campesinos! shows feel like a celebration. At a time when the world genuinely feels like it’s spiralling out of control, shows like this offer up an evening of acceptance and of run, regardless of who you are. From the gender-neutral toilets, to the way in which ticket touting was handled in the run up to the shows, Los Campesinos! have genuinely managed to foster something of a community around themselves, and in doing so have succeeded in making every show feel like a party. Long may it continue.
More from Los Campesinos! can be found on their website, Facebook and Twitter.
Dave Beech is a music writer based out of Manchester. Links to his work can be found over at his blog, Life’s A Beech, as well as his Louder Than War Author Archive. He also tweets as @Dave__Beech.