Los Campesinos! @ KCSU, London 07.11.11

Los Campesinos! return with their fourth studio album Hello Sadness, released today; the title undoubtedly indicative of front man Gareth’s state-of-mind (due to a break-up) when they recorded it in Spain this spring. It is certainly an album that will ensure Los Campesinos! continue to endear themselves to existing fans, and with performances like this one in King’s College Student Union, the Welsh seven-piece will continue to find new listeners vastly appreciative of their twee-indie pop.

Nov 7th, 2011 at KCSU, London / By Francis Newall
Los Campesinos! Opening with the fantastic ‘By Your Hand’ the tone for the evening is instantly set: lead singer Gareth bounding around the stage as if trying to banish his demons through stage presence alone. Hold On Now, Youngster’s ‘Death To Los Campesinos!’ instantly propels the evening along, riling up the crowd in a fantastically entertaining fashion.

The almost Foals-esque vocals in ‘Songs About Your Girlfriend’ are a particular highlight of the evening, Gareth’s melodic talents coming to the forefront with the lines: “Because I never made her smile like that / and she never made me smile right back / Although I always made her purr like a cat / she said I never made her smile like that”, the band pausing for applause before launching into ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’. Whilst it is obviously the songs such as ‘You, Me, Dancing’ and ‘Miserabilia’ from the previous three albums that really get the audience going, it is testament to the musical niche that Los Camps have created for themselves as to how well the songs from the new album fit seamlessly into a set that is made up from four separate albums.

The one thing obvious to everyone was the audience’s knowledge of the new songs a week before the release of the album. Before playing new song ‘Baby I Got The Death Rattle’, Gareth remarks “I don’t expect many of you to have heard this song yet,” however when the drawn out, keyboard and drum led verse comes to an end and the catchy hook “Baby... the girdle of Venus got me... got me down on my knees / And baby... baby I got the death rattle” is sung, it has at least half of the audience singing along to every word – at one point, an audience member is conducting the band with his hands – seemingly oblivious to how upset Los Campesinos! were when the album leaked.

The set comes to an end with ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’, whereby the majority of the crowd is singing what is arguably the most anthemic song in the band’s back catalogue; “One blink for yes, two blinks for no / sweet dreams sweet cheeks, we leave alone”, to leave the approving throng of people clamouring for another song. It is at this juncture of Los Campesinos!’ career that you can really appreciate just how far they’ve come and what they’ve been through on the way. Their apparent knack of putting life experience into song and then enjoying themselves onstage is a “joy to behold” (‘Miserabilia’), and this KCSU audience certainly relished it.