Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Los Campesinos! at Brixton Windmill

Los Campesinos! @ Brixton Windmill, 14/4/08

Upon arriving at the tube station, I braved the streets of Brix-ton and eventually made it up the hill (alive) to the tiny pub in the middle of a residential street where Los Campesinos! and friends were patiently awaiting them. So in I went, to the sounds of opening act Lovvers and shortly after, the main support act Sky Larkin. Both were delightful.

But now onto the focal point – from previous experiences of seeing Los Camp! live, they’ve consistently teetered the line between imperfection and shambles; always on the verge of greatness. Tonight, however, the iceberg is all and for once overcome – a piece of magic occurs before our very eyes, just not quite in the way I expected it. Aleksandra, Ellen, Gareth, Harriet, Neil, Ollie and Tom took off their masks (yes, literally) and revealed their true identities. It may be hard to believe, but the fact is thus: they are all in fact middle-aged accountants, living their dreams. Well, to an extent anyway – the music that they have been ‘performing’ is in fact nothing to do with them. They’re mere mime artists who can’t play any of their instruments, just like Milli Vanilli; and prosthetics these days can be truly convincing. ‘Don’t Tell Me To Do The Math(s)’ was inspired by purchase ledger, it’s later admitted.

Tonight is the night that they finally tire of the charade and confess that in fact they haven’t the foggiest idea about the back catalogues of Pavement, Beulah, Xiu Xiu, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone or bis and in fact they far prefer listening to Jameses Morrison and Blunt, KT Tunstall and The Feeling. At first, the audience almost uniformly faint in disbelief. But then they realise that what they are witnessing is a true one-off event, the unveiling of the self in a post-Freudian world – the pastiche to top all pastiches, accompanied by one thing remaining relentlessly consistent throughout - yes, that’d of course be the handclaps and manic dancing. What else is there to do in a situation so bizarre?

It doesn’t matter what Los Campesinos! really look like anymore as they launch into their fantastic cover versions of ‘Fill My Little World’ and ‘You’re Beautiful’ with the help of just a CD backing track – they almost blow the roof off of the venue when the crowd yelps along to the performance of Paolo Nutini’s ‘Last Request’. Los Campesinos! may not be from Cardiff or write their own songs but tonight they prove themselves to be more convincing than anything seen this century. It’s a sonic revolution. And we, for one, can’t believe that the songs that they are covering somehow escaped us the first time around. ***

*** The above review is entirely fabricated – at the height of the gig’s climax, the band made the audience form a pact, swear an oath or something of similar ilk not to blog or review the festivities. Though who can tell whether we’re bluffing, double bluffing or giving you a true recollection after all… that’s the joy of Los Campesinos! We’ve even got the setlist sat right in front of us, but we’re not ones to go back on our word. Though all I can tell you is that the word “dichotomy” figured and we overheard a less knowledgeable (well, clearly) gig-goer enquire whether its definition was “some sort of operation”.

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