Islington Assembly Hall , London
If success was measured in terms of cultish devotion/m², then Los Campesinos! would be the biggest band in the UK. Sure, the octet (soon to be septet, but more of that later…) will never sell out Brixton Academy. Sure, their tales of heartbreak, bitterness and morbidity will never really relate to the WKD-chugging masses. But, for those who get Los Campesinos! in all their self-deprecating, cathartic glory, this is a band who clearly mean a hell of a lot.
Tonight is bassist and founder member Ellen’s last show with the band and, as such, the gig is an even more emotive affair than usual. A hefty chuck of Campesinos! friends and family are vocally present, but it’s the hardcore mass down the front that are mostly responsible for the actually tremoring venue floor. From the opening bars of ‘Ways To Make It Through The Wall’ through the entirety of the evening’s mammoth, career-spanning set, the front-and-centre throng sing back basically every word like their own, particularly morose sermon. And, if you know Gareth Campesinos!’ inimitably verbose way with a lyric, you’ll know that’s a hell of a lot of words.
‘By Your Hand’, ‘Miserabilia’ (“This is a song about how you and everyone you know will die alone…”) and ‘My Year In Lists’ make for the usual set highlights, but it’s the unexpected twists – dropped in to properly commemorate the occasion – that really make tonight something special. The contemplative stir of ‘Heart Swells/ Pacific Daytime’ receives its first ever airing, whilst, during an encore run-through of golden oldie ‘We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives’ (“We hate this song now, so can you at least pretend you like it,” notes Gareth), former member Aleks makes her first appearance with the band for over three years – the misanthropic indie equivalent of Slash finally returning to the G’n'R fold. So yeah, LC! might never headline Glastonbury, but, as the gaffa tape on their drumskin spells out, fuck everyone else – LC! 4 LYF.