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LIVE: Desperate Journalist – Lafayette, Kings Cross, London – 19/2/2022

The morning after the day before a storm the like of which we’d never seen the like of which, tore through our grey and shitty land and knocked some stuff over. Some big, some small. Trains were cancelled and tracks closed as bits of twig lay strewn across its lines. Somehow, we made it to Kings Cross and Lafayette, a pretty new venue that sprang up in the gentrification of the shit bits north of the station.

Fortunately, one line that was open and in business was LIINES who opened the evening with rhythms tighter than your boss’s wallet. There is elegance in minimalism and the post-punk riffs glided like roof tiles off of houses and shattered.

This was the first Desperate Journalist London gig since they played upstairs at The Lexington late in 2019, and considering that room is a tiny tinderbox of a venue, Lafayette is a wide expanse of space, much like the 100 Club. However, come the unnaturally early 8.30 stage time the swell of people stage front and in the balcony created an atmosphere akin to the triumphant Scala gig five years ago. The world has been turned on its head since then, people are cautious about other people, specifically their proximity, but tonight there is a collective, a communal feeling of a common belief; This is the best band in the country right now.

Flip reversing the tracklisting of their GIITTV Album of the Year 2021, Maximum Sorrow!, they burst straight into closer ‘Was It Worth It’, playing reverse psychology on everyone, they waste no time in diving straight into ‘Personality Girlfriend’ one of the best singles of last year, sarcasm and acerbic wit naturally dripping from every word of Jo Bevan’s lyrics: “You will ignore my faults because you think I’m funny”.

Ever-present ‘Cristina’ never gets old. She is the Peter Pan of noir indie-pop mastery. Despite now being 8 years old, and the band has moved on from the more bombastic approach of their debut eponymous LP, it slips seamlessly into every setlist, like an old regular in a pub you never tire of seeing.

This gig was announced alongside their fourth album back in early 2021 to play the new record, so it has been a long time coming and of course Maximum Sorrow! hogs the limelight.

The sprawling ‘Everything You Wanted’ and doom-mongering ‘Armageddon’ are highlights, but then again there isn’t much on show that isn’t a highlight. Seven years of watching this band grow up and evolve has turned them into a behemoth of a live act, four LPs to choose from, two great EPs that can’t get a look in. ‘Why Are You So Boring’ and ‘Hollow’ are incendiary and intense respectively, Caz Hellbent’s precise and perfect drums on the latter echo through bone, chilling and beautiful at the same time. ‘Fault’ is a masterclass in leaving space in a song. Underpinned by the best bass line from Simon Drowner this side of John Entwistle and Tina Weymouth’s mutant love child. Rob Hardy flourishes and doesn’t overplay it, you were hard pushed to find a better song last year, or most years. Apart from 2019 as that was when they released ‘Satellite’ perhaps their most positive single to date, with an irresistible chorus and riff that imbeds itself into your soul like a melodic tapeworm in the gut. A Brucey bonus in the shape of ‘Be Kind’ that sores like an albatross of regret.

Superlatives old and new have been and gone and Desperate Journalist are still the epitome of perfect consistency, stunning prolificacy and heart-swelling beauty. Many others come and some acclaim them the best, but Desperate Journalist remain. “Oh listen, you eclipse them”.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.