Los Campesinos @ Birmingham Academy 2, 13/02/08

The show ended as it started – from ‘Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats’ with it’s shouty count-in to the final unaccompanied, shouted chorus of ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’. It set the tone for the whole of the show quite succinctly too, with all seven members involved at high volume in a slightly quirky, unabashed and ramshackle manner.There was little time for banter before songs (Gareth later blamed his recent abstention from alcohol) as they slipped quickly into ‘Don’t Tell Me To Do The Math’ and then into a performance of ‘Death To Los Campesinos! that got the already enthusiastic crowd really bubbling up.

Not for nothing did Gareth single out the lone security guy for praise – there was a lot of crowdsurfing going on and certainly more than the venue seemed to be expecting. His job wasn’t helped by the apparent presence of an Olympic shotputter in the crowd who had the knack of propelling people very far, very quickly.

A special mention goes to the charming young lady in the rather short dress who seemed shocked by how the beleaguered security bloke had to grab her top half to hoist her clear. Shocked but not displeased apparently – she crowdsurfed twice more before the end of the night beaming gleefully. Bless. Gareth got in on the act too – performing a whole rapidfire verse perfectly while lying back across the crowd, anchored by the security guy’s hand round his ankle.

Anyway, back to the music. To be honest there’s not much more to relate about the songs – the essential ingredients of:

  • A glockensiel being hammered in a way unlikley to have pleased my old music teacher;
  • Gareth and Aleks swapping keyboards and exchanging vocals
  • Tom and Neil playing guitars while dancing, joined at the hip;
  • Harriet proving the truism that there’s no such thing as an unattractive violinist; and
  • A fast-paced mish-mash of many instruments, intelligent lyrics and song titles that would be a joy to any reviewer being paid by the word

were blended in slightly different ways with no let up in energy, verve, enthusiasm or crowd reaction.

If it’s a criticism that the show was one-paced then at least the band maintained the level they set. They swapped instruments, danced about and generally looked like they were having fun. They played through the whole of the album ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’ in an order not far off that record’s and added only ‘The International Tweexcore Underground’ to the setlist.

Ok, so my opening line wasn’t strictly true. There was more to come after the shouted end to Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks (the best song of the night, incidentally) with an encore of 2007, The Year Punk Broke (My Heart). This saw the band stretching into slightly different territory, starting in a familiar manner but then dispensing with the distinctive vocals and sharpness; instead bringing the instruments together to create what, in its own way, could almost have amounted to a Mogwai cover. As the noise reached its peak the group abandoned their instruments to let the feedback play out, to be drowned out by the crowd’s applause.

Published by Chris Unitt

I work at One Further, doing digital projects with cultural organisations. Follow @ChrisUnitt or find me on LinkedIn.