With two beloved albums out already, it’s no surprise that the excitement was palpably high at The Dome on Tuesday night for Melbourne’s Camp Cope’s first appearance in London. Their songs have come to mean so much to their fanbase, and while the trio may have expressed amazement that they sold out the gig, the truth is they probably could have done so in somewhere twice the size – such was the desperation for spare tickets displayed online in the days leading up to it.

The trio fed into the excitement immediately, by kicking off with a brief cover of Green Day’s ‘Warning’, testing the vocal abilities of the crowd when it came to the sing along chorus (although many in the audience were probably toddlers when it was released in 2000). Nevertheless, they still induced a rallying cry of “live without warning!” from a vocal audience, before diving headfirst into the gutsy ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’ from the self-titled debut. This was the first example of the crowd’s utter connection to the lyricism of Georgia Maq; clinging to every word in the whipping verses, joining in heartily for the declaration “the only thing that stops a bad man with a gun/ is a good man with a gun/ lies they use to control you.” Between each song, Maq was effusive while re-tuning her guitar, by turns jovial and serious. On the one hand she expressed excitement about being in London before playing the windtunnel ‘How To Socialise & Make Friends’ - but then took things to a serious note when introducing ‘The Face Of God’. The audience was fully focused as Maq requested that all men in the audience go home that night and talk to their other male friends about how they can help to make public spaces safer for women. Deservedly, the pointed and considered speech got a resounding reaction. ‘The Face Of God’ is a weighty and powerful song at any time, but after that speech Camp Cope’s performance seemed extra charged, and the fearless relaying of Maq’s experience hit even harder than ever – singing along felt disingenuous, and instead I just listened, turning over the disquieting story more vividly than ever before.

Camp Cope rewarded the many hardcore fans in the audience that had been waiting years to see them by playing not only favourites from both albums, but a couple of their adored non-album tracks ‘Keep Growing’ and ‘Footscray Station’. They dedicated the former to anyone who came to the gig alone, and by way of introduction to the latter, Maq informed us that it was inspired by bassist Kelly pissing herself while walking home from the titular station – before promising that it would happen to all of us in our adult lives at some point. This swaying back and forth from the significant to the light-hearted characterises Camp Cope’s music, and seeing them live out the same dichotomy as three people on a stage made their songs resound even more fully. Maq admitted that playing ‘Lost (Season One)’ is for her like reading an embarrassing diary entry from her teen years, but the crowd helped her yelp and dive her way through the anguish, shouting along with the anthem – each of us revelling in the memory of an youthful relationship.

The night was always building towards their airing of the polemic ‘The Opener’, which they smartly saved for last. Similar to ‘The Face Of God’, even knowing well the song and its anti-masculinity themes in advance could not have prepared us for the power of the song when played live. ‘The Opener’ doesn’t really feature a proper chorus, but is a constant build in fury, and you could feel the audience’s muscles and jaws tightening throughout the performance; by the time of the incendiary final verse, everyone seemed to be shouting along with as much passion as if they had personally faced the affronts that Camp Cope detail in the song.

And with that, it was suddenly over. There are undoubtedly many songs left out that fans would have been desperate to hear (‘Anna’, ‘Sagan-Indiana’, ‘Flesh & Electricity’), but such was the charged atmosphere of the night, the sheer passion of the performance and the audience’s involvement, that it was best that it was short; it meant that the sharp and impressive energy in the room remained concentrated, resulting in a devastatingly impactful set. Camp Cope will undoubtedly be back in London again before too long, but this first performance in the British capital will stick in the minds of the performers and audience as one for the ages.

Set list:

Warning (Green Day cover)
Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams
How To Socialise & Make Friends
The Face Of God
Keep Growing
Footscray Station
UFO Lighter
Lost (Season One)
The Opener