Los Campesinos! @ The Exchange, Bristol, 18/11/2015

Los CampesinosNot playing your best known song is a controversial move. It can alienate those in the crowd who are more casual observers; those who only know the band performing for their ‘hits’. Los Campesinos! don’t have casual fans. They do however have fans that are head over heels in love with the band, who are due to hit their 10th anniversary in 2016. Their decision not to include their best known song, their self described “song about beer”, is barely noticed by a sold out Exchange. The audience is united in singing every single word of every single song.

For a band that prides themselves so much on not hiding anything, it's nice to have a chat with lead singer Gareth at the merch stand before the gig begins, and to watch them wander on to Drake’s “Legend”, a song at odds with their own music, but loved by the band.

It’s very hard to think of another gig where both band and audience members have enjoyed themselves so much. You wouldn’t guess this is the band's first gig for around a year, as they launch into songs like “Letters From Me to Charlotte”, “My Year in Lists” and “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” with the same reckless abandon and youthful angst they have always peddled.

Despite Los Campesinos! wryly naming the tour the Old and Gross Tour, there’s very little about the set tonight that demonstrates a band settling or slowing down. As always, the highlight of the gig comes during the magnificent, beautiful and moving “The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future”. Seeing a whole room of people scream along with Gareth that, “You can never kiss a Tory boy without wanting to cut off your tongue again” is a sound and image that stays with you. It’s relevance and ferocity seems greater now than when the band wrote it.

Los Campesinos! choose to end the set not with the customary “Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks”, but instead, ironically, “In Medias Res”. The song sums up the band's intensity, emotion and intelligence in about four fantastic minutes. I leave, along with about 100 others, with a grin from ear to ear. They maybe about to hit their first decade as a band, but Los Campesinos! are nowhere near out of their peak yet.

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