Looking at James Murphy you’d never think of him as the creator and brains of one of the world’s most thought-provoking, critically-acclaimed bands. Smiling nervously as he walks across the stage, the 47-year-old is a reluctant frontman whose band create seriously good punk grooves and disco beats, with the nine-piece somehow managing to make it sound even better in a live environment than on record.
“Let’s just start this thing finally with some clarity,” said Murphy in a statement last year. LCD Soundsystem’s Madison Square Garden show was supposed to be their final gig; a grand send off on what was a terrific ten years of music. However, this was not the case and Friday night’s Alexandra Palace audience were reaping the benefits of the reunion.
From the second the instantly recognisable bassline of ‘Get Innocuous!’ crept its way into the set’s opening mix, the huge room turned into one big party, with the slow burning motorik anthem setting a ridiculously high standard from the offset. With barely any backdrop and the odd dramatic piece of lighting, LCD have never put too much effort into the whole production of the show – instead choosing to let the music do the talking, with every intricate part played completely live and sounding brilliant.
Those worried that the new material wouldn’t recreate the former glories were proven wrong, with the likes of ‘Call The Police’ coming across brilliantly on stage as it built up with its sonic ripples and bass guitar layers that orchestrated into a cathartic wig out. The same goes for fellow single ‘American Dream' with its sing-along framework. Even the heavy ‘Emotional Haircut’ with its call-and-response catchphrase gained a huge reaction from the audience during the encore. ‘Tonite’, meanwhile, was possibly the best of the newbies, with the catchy synth line and electronic drums gaining even more propulsion in a gig environment.
As far as the first three records go, each one was equally represented. From the debut, ‘Tribulations’ and ‘Movement’ were sounding as brilliant as ever, with the former’s flawless synth line and the latter’s slow-paced drum build-up putting the crowd into even more of a frenzy. However, the set highlight came in the form of ‘Yeah’. Tucked away on a one-off 12” from 2004, the ten-minute-long track has become a live staple and it turned the Ally Pally into a blissful rave.
Main set closer ‘Home’ also felt colossal, whilst ‘Someone Great’ surprisingly became the biggest sing-along of the night. Hipster anthem and first ever single ‘Losing My Edge’ then made a surprise appearance for the encore before the New York band ended in customary fashion with potentially the best pair of set closers anywhere in music. ‘Dance Yrself Clean’s cathartic drop after three minutes will always be the highlight of any set, whilst ‘All My Friends’ takes you on a euphoric krautrock journey that you never want to end.
Expectedly understated as they leave the stage, LCD comeback gigs have proven they are just as relevant as they have ever been and Friday night represented this in glorious fashion.