Live Music + Gig Reviews

LCD Soundsystem @ Astoria, London

14 March 2007

LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem

It’s unclear how James Murphy manages to chug so slowly to LCD Soundsystem‘s music. The DFA head honcho is surveying the writhing, funking, sardine-packed Astoria floor as though having an out-of-body experience, shuffling his arms like a stationary diesel engine’s wheel rods as they consider pulling away from a platform.

The larger-than-life singer, instrumentalist and producer looks like a roadie in his jeans and t-shirt – visually he’s not mesmerising to behold. He never looks like breaking into a sweat at the infectious grooves being created and bounced between instruments by his six-piece team, preferring instead to adopt the poise of a soul diva – aloof, cool and totally in charge.

Plainly he knows he has the ammunition to run the place. From epic set opener Us V Them (“the time has come”) he cranks up the pace to fever pitch and deploys a considerable array of tools, including cowbell, to keep it right there. Whether you want to call it “indietronica” or “a damned fine time”, intricate loops nestle joyously amongst precise beats and create a pace that sounds as though it could fall off the rails in a spectacular smash at any moment. Yet it somehow all hangs together, marvellously so.

LCD Soundsystem are touring in support of second album Sound Of Silver, a record so addictive they could play only its tracks, over and over again, for days, and the crowd would still want some more. But Murphy intersperses with Daft Punk Is Playing In My House, Movement and Tribulations too. Good tunes all, but it’s the Sound Of Silver tracks that edge them as dance floor anthems. Current single North American Scum, a rant against snobbish Europeans looking down their noses at obnoxious Yanks abroad, is deployed early – other bands would leave a highlight like this till last, but Murphy has plenty more where that slice of satirical mayhem came from.

All My Friends and Watch The Tapes grab the place by the scruff of the neck and shake it, raising the roof in passing. Get Innocuous – “don’t it make you feel alive” – is another jaw-droppingly excellent moment of performance musicianship meeting and matching uncompromised writing. Seventies funk integrates seamlessly with phat synths and the kind of raving American vocals popularised by The Dandy Warhols‘ Cortney Taylor-Taylor.

Live favourite Yeah closes the main set, and it’s here that Murphy does the impossible – he cranks it all up to an even more stupendous level of collective euphoria, joining in with drums one moment, shrieking like Jimmy Somerville the next before twiddling some synth knobs to morph another loop and build another sound. And his voice is well up to the job of dramatising the euphoria. Not always an obvious talking point on LCD’s records, it’s surprisingly tuneful tonight.

Floor stamps and whistles bring the band back to their stage for two closing tracks – the sublime electro elegy Someone Great, and the Lou Reed-esque New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. The tempo dips, lighters are raised, hips swing and, just before midnight, Murphy leaves the place in no doubt of his consummate genius. It’s a show that could not have been improved.

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