LCD Soundsystem


Having just returned from the World’s Greatest Festival(tm), Primavera, a day ago, I have to confess that I am not exactly massively up for this gig. I still have that festival ‘jet lag’ where everything is a little hazy, I feel like I haven’t slept for about 2 weeks, and even though LCD Soundsystem are one of, if not my actual, favourite band of all time (check out the absolute gushing review of their Warehouse Project gig I did here for evidence), I’m struggling to muster much enthusiasm. That, combined with the fact I’m sat down in the circle at the Apollo for an electronic gig (although with the current state of me, that’s actually a godsend) is hampering my enthusiasm tbh.

However, as soon as Murphy and his gang of synth wizards, percussion demons and guitar maestros take the stage and break into ‘You Wanted A Hit’, my Primavera hangover melts away and within 30 seconds I’m fully back on board. A lot of that is due to the sound. Oh sweet Jesus, the sound in the Apollo tonight is incredible, like, fully the best sound I’ve ever heard in there, and maybe the best sound I’ve heard at a Manchester venue in my gig going days. It’s loud, so very loud, but clean and crisp; you can hear every cowbell, every synth pulses through your body, and the bass makes your eyeballs shake, it’s intense as, and it’s beautiful. This is played out when the guitarist Al Doyle starts absolutely ripping the shit out of his guitar at the end of ‘…Hit’ and it rattles me to my core. Playing a song called ‘You Wanted A Hit’ at the start of a gig, which contains the line “you wanted a hit? But that’s not what we do” is quite the statement, and it sets the tone for tonight. There’s no ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’, no ‘Drunk Girls’, no ‘Losing My Edge’, however what we do get is an absolutely ripping, compelling, stunning, fucking barnstormer of a set made up of their entire career, b-sides and all.

The synths on debut album cut ‘Tribulations’ are so filthy they should come with a parental warning; ‘Movement’ is so aggressive it feels like I’m at a death metal gig, consumed by the sound, the lights, and Murphy’s snarl; fan favourite ‘Yr City’s A Sucker’ (even though Murphy says “no one Facebook messages us and asks us to play this, we just like it and keep doing it”) is as sarcastic as it comes; and ‘Call The Police’, flanked by flashing red and blue lights, is so enormous I have to look up to check the roof is still in tact. All these are greeted with the whoops, shrieks, body thrashing and hands-in-the-air shimmying of the smitten 3500 sold out crowd who know every word and every beat. Indeed Murphy says the band enjoyed the Warehouse Project gigs so much they just had to come back and do more even though no one asked them, and his professed love for Piccadilly Records, where he spent 3 hours this afternoon, is testament to how he feels about our magnificent city (“Go buy some records by local acts, you’re lucky to have it!”).

‘Someone Great’ is screamed to the rafters, arms around friends, tears in the eyes, and the little played ‘Home’, trademark disco ball in full illumination above us, is a calypso treat, the final line “look around you, you’re surrounded, it won’t get any better” a prophecy for life when you’re at an LCD gig, for they are the greatest live band around. Murphy stalks the stage, apologising for the gap between him and the crowd but promising that “we’ll connect emotionally”, and as he takes a brief sojourn to a keyboard at the back of the enormous stage, Nancy Whang steps forward and gives us a spectacular full band disco rendition of Chic’s classic ‘I Want Your Love’, the disco ball shimmering pink, and all of a sudden we could be in Studio 54. The best is yet to come though, with a stunning version of their American Dream centre piece ‘How Do You Sleep’, Murphy wailing into his mic as Pat Mahoney batters a tribal drum beat and Doyle makes a violin do things I’ve never heard before. It’s dark, it’s intense, it’s as far from ‘All My Friends’, the euphoric set closer, as you can get, it’s chillingly brilliant and is one of my favourite LCD moments ever.

This has not been the jubilant, hit filled set of that legendary Warehouse Project gig, despite the closing one-two of ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ (oh, that drop!) and the untouchable, greatest of all time ‘All My Friends’. At times it has felt more like a heavy rock gig than an electronic show, and although Murphy and co are clearly having a great time, it’s dark and intense, but above all, compelling, thrilling, and sublime. LCD Soundsystem are de facto the best live band around, and they seem even more invigorated than before their break. Please never go away again James, you have the power to heal a festival-broken man through sheer force of your incredible sound, and it’s something we can’t afford to lose again.

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