James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem


Now and again I can be prone to hyperbole when talking about music, such is my enthusiasm for certain bands. But, dear reader, hear me out here: LCD Soundsystem have just won music with their first night (of two) opening this year’s Warehouse Project season. Everyone else should just pack up and go home, because Store Street (or anywhere else for that matter) isn’t going to witness anything better than what James Murphy and his band have done here tonight. Indeed, music might not witness anything as good as this again (unless ABBA decide to come out of retirement). 2000 people packed into a car park underneath Piccadilly train station, to a man united by the sheer joy of the occasion, will wake up tomorrow morning with the same massive grin on their faces as they left the building with, caked in sweat and the grime that only Store Street can leave on you, knowing that they’ve seen something very special.

And to think, we might not ever have got here. In 2011 James Murphy packed up LCD after a sold out night at New York’s Madison Square Garden and put the band into retirement. I was devastated at the time, Sounds of Silver being one of my favourite albums of all time, and ‘All My Friends’ being my de facto number one song ever. I’d caught them live a couple of times before they finished, and to think I was never going to see them again, or hear new music from Murphy the genius, made me very sad indeed. So when he brought them out of retirement to not only tour but make a new album, I was overjoyed (some fans felt ripped off – in what world is a band you like coming back a bad thing?!), and when the Warehouse Project announced they would be opening the new season this year I just had to be there.

So here I am, packed into the middle of the crowd, barely able to lift my can of beer to my mouth such is the squeeze of people desperate to see Murphy and co, as the anticipation for the midnight start time ratchets up to an almost unbearable level. When they hit the stage, all mayhem breaks loose and I find myself thrust to near the front, down with the kids who surely can’t have been old enough to cross the road on their own when the band’s debut came out in 2005, but who are just as thrilled as the more, ahem, seasoned amongst us, to see their heroes take to the stage. Of course, it’s ‘Get Innocuous’ to open, the crowd screaming “YOU CAN NORMALISE, DON’T IT MAKE YOU FEEL ALIVE?” back at Murphy, who is front and centre with his trademark mic held to his lips, stalking the stage, Nancy Whang on keys and synths to his right, Pat Mahoney on drums to his left, everything in its right place. It’s electric, thrilling, and really emotional to see them up there, and to see the reverence they are held in makes my heart swell, the goosebumps rising through the sweat pouring off my body as I dance and writhe amongst the glistening throng of bodies around me. I’m bounced around from pillar to post, barely needing to use my own legs to support me, as strangers throw their arms up around me, united in the joy of ‘I Can Change’ and the immense ‘Yr City’s A Sucker’, a track I’ve never heard them do before.

They are, of course, here to tour their latest (don’t call it a comeback) album, and the new songs go down just as well as the older tracks with the crowd. ‘Call The Police’ and ‘Tonite’ are already classics, and treated as such when they’re deployed, and the dark throb of ‘I Used To’ gives us some respite from the pogoing as people stand transfixed and swaying to the pulsating beat, Murphy’s crooning falsetto rising to the roof of the arches, meeting the sweat dripping off it. It almost gets a bit much for me when the pulsing synth opening of ‘Someone Great’ kicks in, the noise from the crowd deafening as people cry and sing along word perfectly to the beautiful homage to a lost friend, hands raised to the heavens, 2000 voices in unison hollering ‘WHEN SOMEONE GREAT IS GONE’, thinking about those not with us, arms thrown around strangers, warming the shivers going up and down my spine. ‘Home’ ends the main set, but no one wants to leave yet, it’s only 1.30am and we all know there’s more to come.

As they set up for the encore, ‘Spanish Flea’ plays comedically over the PA, as people turn to each other in disbelief, everyone stating “how good was that”, but shit there’s more to come. New track ‘Change Yr Mind’ kicks off the second coming, followed by the monstrous ‘Dance Yrself Clean’, the anticipation for the ‘drop’ palpable, and when it comes it’s astonishingly loud and astonishingly received, pandemonium breaking out in the crowd, people surfing above me, people picking friends and strangers up off the floor and getting straight back into it, spontaneous and uncontainable joy pouring out of everyone. And then here is it, the keyboard intro almost drowned out by screams, as ‘All My Friends’ enters the fray, 2000 people shouting ‘THAT’S HOW IT STARTS’ and sheer, unbridled euphoria fills the room, strangers again throwing their arms around each other, yelling ‘WHERE ARE YOUR FRIENDS TONIGHT?’ at each other, knowing the answer is here, they’re all here, all 2000 of them, and they’re all swearing they wouldn’t change one stupid decision for another fives years of life. My face is streaked with sweat and tears, both my own and others, and I think to myself “does it get better than this?” and deep down I know that it might never be this good again, live music may have just peaked here in this underground car park. But then again I am prone to the odd hyperbole.

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