Monday, 26 April 2010

LCD Soundsystem leave London breathless

*Photo courtesy of Roman Tagoe

LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy famously didn’t write for Seinfeld because he preferred the NYC stoner lifestyle.

Quite what Seinfeld scribe and Curb Your Enthusiasm lynchpin Larry David would have made of the nasal-voiced DFA Records founder remains unknown, but US TV’s loss has since been funk-punk’s gain.

Aside from his work as LCD chief, Murphy has made a plethora of albums and remixes that satisfy and excite. Radio 4’s excellent Gotham LP, the staggering Daft Punk-influenced remix of Le Tigre’s Deceptacon and the remix of Sister Saviour by fellow NYC stalwarts The Rapture have all benefited from the Murphy touch. In each case Murphy was complemented by Tom Goldsworthy, Murphy’s DFA production partner.

As for LCD Soundsystem, Murphy has brought the band to a close.

They’ll no longer be touring as the main man wants to spend time scoring. No, he’s not developed some heavy skag passion, just veered into composing soundtracks. His work on Noah Baumbach’s Greenburg was released in March.

Last weekend LCD played what may well be the band’s London’s last indoor** shows at Brixton Academy.

On Friday the show (23 April) was beset by technical problems but like true pros the Big Apple gang cracked on impeccably. Few undergarments stayed dry as feverish disco guitar riffs, battered cowbell chimes and morbidly obese basslines shuddered around Brixton’s biggest venue.

Terrific set-opener Us V Them got two airings after a synth initially failed. Luckily an IT geek got let out from his basement for 30 seconds for a spot of turning-it-off-and-on-again and things improved second time round. Masterful single Tribulations and early fan favourite Yeah provided some ragged but unified chanting. Even crashing moments of garage rock/electro crossover noise like those in Movement or new shoutalong Drunk Girls went down well.

A slightly underplayed version of Daft Punk Is Playing My House seemed to confuse fans before it worked them into a frenzy worthy of the recorded version, but All My Friends received perhaps the best reworking of the evening.

On sophomore album Sound Of Silver, All My Friends is almost a night’s finale, lighters-in-the-air take on the traditional post acid-house dancefloor epic. Here, from the opening seconds, any sort of faithful take on the original had clearly been forsaken like a burnt pie crust.

The fast, banging and resolute reinvention worked. For once all the cheesy hands-in-the-air sentiments of life-affirming rave culture and people coming together over a shared love of music seemed to have a point. Even the most inebriated gig-goers in SW9 thought about their pals both present and absent. It’s hard not to when thousands of people around you are singing, “Where are your friends tonight?”

Murphy often mimicked some of Morrissey’s vocal approach during the show, even if his overall stage persona had more in common with the original arty funk-punker David Byrne.

He brought together this sense of class and cool immaculately on unexpected final tune New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. This five boroughs lament actually did get lighters held aloft and balloons falling from the venue’s ceiling. A terrific ending but one perhaps “inspired” by Hot Chip, the Putney greats who share both a label and occasional member (Al Doyle) with LCD.

After all, Hot Chip let balloons drop at the close of their 2008 Brixton Academy show, too.

Murphy and his six stage companions tore through debut hit Losing My Edge earlier in the set.

But if, as most present agreed, the only way the performance matched that song's title was through spherical rubber plagiarism..?

Their passing will be missed more than that of childhood innocence.

**The band are due to play at Hyde Park's Wireless festival in July.

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