LCD Soundsystem: a brilliant gig that felt more like a banging club night

·3-min read
LCD Soundsystem at the Brixton Academy - John Williams/Avalon
LCD Soundsystem at the Brixton Academy - John Williams/Avalon

“This is like a club,” said one woman, dancing with her friend on the Academy’s filling floor, apparently unable to keep still. “I almost keep forgetting there’s a band on.”

At 8:15pm on Monday night, before a note of LCD Soundsystem’s music had been played, before their instruments had even been given a final once-over ready to go, Brixton was already well under the spell of the beat. Over the PA, at a volume most artists would consider impolite for pre-gig fare, endless dance music pulsed out. Everywhere you looked, pockets of people were already dancing as if to the main event. Surprising? Sort of. But as much as the fact that LCD Soundsystem are here at all.

In an interview last July, James Murphy declared that the band were on “full hiatus”. There was no new music in the can, the Brooklyn electro-rock collective’s main brain continued, and thus they wouldn’t be touring anytime soon either. LCD Soundsystem were all, in Murphy’s words, “doing other stuff”. So don’t hold your breath.

That lasted no further than October, when the band announced a 20-date pre-Christmas residency at Brooklyn Steel in New York. It wasn’t technically a tour, so he wasn’t technically lying, just as their appearance as musical guests on Saturday Night Live in February also doesn’t count as a tour. Nor does their recent surprise turn at a party hosted by NFT online members’ club Bored Ape Yacht Club (a gig for which we sincerely hope they were paid in cash).

And the same goes for Monday night, when they ambled onto the stage for the first of six nights at the Academy, to mark 20 years to the week that they released their Losing My Edge debut single. In fact, for all the dazzling lights, syncopated strobes and a disco ball that really shouldn’t be as exciting as it is in the event, this felt rather charmingly loose – not like one of the most influential bands of their time, but an informal jam that’s got out of control.

LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy at the Brixton Academy - John Williams/Avalon
LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy at the Brixton Academy - John Williams/Avalon

“Here’s how it’s gonna work tonight,” announced Murphy early on, following the brilliant Get Innocuous!, I Can Change (complete with a snippet of Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity) and the brilliantly titled Daft Punk Is Playing at My House. “We have a time where we have to stop, so we’re just gonna play as many songs as we can.” This isn’t a lie: so keen on going right to the bell was Murphy that by the end, the band have shortened a banging Dance Yrself Clean, and he’s moved the giant stage clock from the wings so he can keep an eye on the hour.

If last week’s show in this venue by Nine Inch Nails was the nihilistic side of man meeting machines and electronics to make music, then LCD Soundsystem are the opposing sense of joy. It’s a feeling borne of the collective nature of the band itself; eight people, all contributing very different things to an often hypnotic live whole, bringing a new power not heard on record to You Wanted A Hit, Tribulation and tonite, with its robotic vocals and nose-shaking bass notes.

When not singing, Murphy busied himself with a cowbell, or grabbed a stick to add to the rhythms of Pat Mahoney’s drums. During a kinetic Movement, meanwhile, guitarist Al Doyle turned feedback into an art in its own right, handing his instrument to the front rows as it squealed over the beat. The connection throughout was magnetic.

“This is the first city we ever played in,” a beaming Murphy gushed, recalling their debut shows in November 2002 at AKA Bar. “Thank you for showing up for us.” Hiatus or no, one imagines the audience were thinking the same thing.

LCD Soundsystem’s residency continues June 28-29, then July 1-3; ticketmaster.co.uk

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