Los Campesinos! live in London: celebrations as ‘Hello Sadness’ turns 10

December 14, Village Underground: The Welsh indie-pop outfit deliver a rousing tribute to their back catalogue, and the future is looking bright.

“From here on it’s only hits,” says Los Campesinos! frontman Gareth David, halfway through a monster set of beloved favourites: spanning from the Welsh band’s 2008 debut ‘Hold on Now, Youngster’ right through to this year’s EP of ‘Hello Sadness’ leftovers ‘Whole Damn Body’. A call from the audience suggests that everything so far has been hits, too.

And it’s true. Los Campesinos! are looking increasingly good value for the crowd of 30-somethings that have listened religiously to their music since university, as well as the newer fans that have rolled in through a wave of current bands who wear the hallmarks of David’s sharply witty lyrics in their own songwriting. Though they’ve got six albums to their name, LC feel like they’ve slightly eased off the gas over the last decade (their last studio album, ‘Sick Scenes’ was back in 2017). Still, every release is gold, and the crowd at London’s Village Underground seem to know every single word. The gap since their last live performance in February 2020 hasn’t slowed them down at all.

While their lofty claim they’re the first and only UK emo band (as seen on their Twitter bio) may be dubious, LC are definitely one of the hardest working bands on the scene, stepping up to play an extra-long set after support band Fortitude Valley had to pull out due to a positive COVID test. Throughout, they keep up a chatty rapport with the room, apologising both for their four track encore (“Sorry if it means you’re staying late”) to not being able to hit the high notes in ‘Hello Sadness’ (“In the last 22 months I’ve found I just can’t do it anymore”). While this kind of connection with the audience is nothing new, Los Campesinos! genuinely feel like a band that cares most of all about their audience having a good time.

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They needn’t have worried. Starting with ‘Allez Les Blues’, a 2021 single making its live debut on this tour, it’s a rattle through banger after banger in the band’s back catalogue. Though it skews towards shining a spotlight on ‘Hello Sadness’ – which turned ten years old this year – it’s also peppered with energetic renditions of the rest of their hits. At the band’s request, pretty much the entire crowd stays masked during the performance, but it doesn’t hurt the energy in the room, which swells further with each song. The only real change comes from jubilant punters pausing the dancing every so often to keep masks well-adjusted. David also stays perched on the stage instead of jumping into the crowd as per his usual antics.

Towards the end of the encore, Los Camp hit the room with a wall of sound at the start of ‘You! Me! Dancing!’ – a somewhat defiant note from a band who has an uneasy relationship with perhaps their most well-known song. It caps off a competent performance from a band that feel like they’re back on the rise again, and with a new album – and, perhaps, a supporting tour – in 2022, it’s hard not to feel excited.

Los Campesinos! played:

‘Allez les Blues’

‘I Broke Up in Amarante’

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‘Romance Is Boring’

‘By Your Hand’

‘What Death Leaves Behind’

‘Hello Sadness’

‘A Slow, Slow Death’

‘For Flotsam’

‘The Black Bird, the Dark Slope’

‘To Tundra’

‘Here’s to the Fourth Time!’

‘She Crows (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #4)’

‘I Just Sighed. I Just Sighed, Just So You Know’

‘Straight In at 101’

‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’

‘The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future’

‘Avocado, Baby’

‘As Lucerne/The Low’

‘Songs About Your Girlfriend’

‘You! Me! Dancing!’

‘Baby I Got the Death Rattle’

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