LCD Soundsystem proved several things tonight, not least that music designed for dancing can also be vital, dynamic and filled with flawed human emotion. Another is how loud and detailed a band can sound in a stadium if they invest the kind of fastidious attention to detail that has been key to James Murphy’s work since the band began.
Many acts would have chosen to integrate, if not a backing track, then at least a laptop with key patches or sounds loaded into Ableton. However it is Murphy’s insistence on performing with the same modular synthesisers, drum machines, stringed and acoustic instruments that they record with and that every note is played live that gives LCD’s show its human element. It’s also what ensures that the sound is dynamic, in-your-face and that the band are completely on top of their game at all times; the layered arrangements shifting incessantly as is typical of dance music, even if this form of dance is framed in a pop/rock context.
Having not toured Australia since disbanding in 2011, a greatest hits set list was to be expected, but LCD kept everyone on their toes by kicking things off with the non-album cut ‘Yr City’s A Sucker’ and following it with their best known single, ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’.
The stage was dominated by a small mountain of synths, which were being played by three people at different points of the night, as well as guitar, bass, drums, occasionally vibraphone, and a second drummer who seemed to be playing drum pads as well as acoustic percussion.
Murphy, the amiable anti-rockstar clad in jeans and a t-shirt was as confident, charming as ever, delivering his typical half spoken vocal with interesting timing choices, clearly directing the band’s movements.
“I typically don’t get in the face of old people for being ignorant,” he said at one stage, referring to the recent comments made by a former Australian tennis star. “You can go fuck yourself. When we come back next year let’s rename this place.”
‘You Wanted A Hit’ was carried by the pure groove of the bass and guitar while the old school twisty bass synth of ‘Tribulations’ felt nothing short of triumphant. ‘Home’ was a mid-set highlight, its swirling arpeggiated synths and offbeat organ stabs being punctuated by a collective ‘aaaahh’ from the crowd during the hook.
‘New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’ is possibly the band’s most straight forward song, its lumbering bass line and lounge piano eventually giving way to staccato accented bursts of energy. It was a big moment that showcased Murphy’s ability to write fairly traditional rock songs, but as soon as the band returned for the encore of ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ the audience excitement levels reached an all time high.
The unmistakable percussive pattern and single synth bass notes was welcomed by a crowd who were by now well and truly in party mode, singing along to every lyric and going suitably nuts when the beat finally kicked in. ‘All My Friends’ closed out the celebratory set with Murphy promising that they would be back to play for us again in the near future.
LCD Soundsystem surpassed expectations with a thrillingly vital set that showed the heartbeat and adrenaline that is at the basis of their music is very much still alive.
Originally published in Mixdown Magazine. Photographs by Andrew Bibby.