Desperate Journalist: Lafayette, London, 19.02.22

London post punk specialists take last year's incredible Maximum Sorrow! to the stage in sublime fashion

Feb 23rd, 2022 at Lafayette, London / By Richard Lewis
Desperate Journalist Playing to a full room on home turf at new-ish Kings Cross venue Lafayette (it opened in 2020, but that qualifies as recent in the current era), tonight's show is a homecoming of sorts for Desperate Journalist.

With last year's redoubtable Maximum Sorrow! to plug, the outfit throw an excellent curveball by airing the album'ss incendiary closing track Was It Worth It? first. Debut single Cristina up next winds the clock right back to the beginning, its combination of calm verses and abrasive choruses still as thrilling almost a decade later.

Raising a cheer with its dedication to any 'Goths in attendance' a dynamic reading of Hollow, underpinned by drummer Caz Helbert's atomic clock style foundation work sounds monumental. Piloting the songs in commanding style, guitarist Rob Hardy'ss combination of Rickenbacker jangle and plangent chord work is given ballast by indie band stalwart Charley Stone on rhythm guitar. With Jo Bevan's pinpoint vocals suitably high in the mix, as strong live as their vocal booth recorded studio versions, the singer's cut-through amidst the gorgeous noise surrounding them is laser sighted.

Showcasing their strength at crafting acerbic indie pop, Personality Girlfriend which ought to have been glued to radio playlists last year, is matched by pomposity pricking novelist takedown Poison Pen which Kicks Out The DWEMs in redoubtable fashion. Shifting gear Fine In the Family, one of the group's most abrasive tracks to date, constructed around Simon Drowner's scabrous bassline, is succeeded by the chilly Simple Minds style motoric pulse of Everything You wanted.

Proof of how easily the quartet can shift gears, the textural washes of Cedars soar effortlessly, followed by a sulphurous take on post-punk rush Fault and on to Armageddon, boasting one of the group's strongest choruses.

Finding additional relevance with its 'wheezing like the trains' lyric, none more apt given the chaos wreaked by the previous day's storms, a heart-bursting take on Satellite played last possibly outshines the studio version. Four albums in and continuing their upward trajectory, for a capsule review Maximum Joy works perfectly.