Live Review: LCD Soundsystem
Aran Grover reviews LCD Soundsystem’s gig at the Brixton Academy, twenty years after their first performance
This year is the 20th anniversary of LCD Soundsystem’s first ever live show. This was at the now closed club, Trash in the West End of London. Because of this, the band decided to celebrate with a 6-night residency at the Brixton Academy. They sold out every night, and I was one of the lucky ones to see them.
Before going into the Academy, the café on the corner of the high street was blaring the band’s catalogue, just as they do with whatever is on at the venue that evening. The place was awash with LCD fans, some young, some old. The chatter of shared memories was unavoidable, talk of seeing the band in the early days, more recently, favourite songs, and close connections. Entering the venue, the band’s intergenerational following really struck me. There were older people, younger people, kids, teenagers, even a family of four. As a fellow younger fan said in the venue, “There’s the people who were there, and then…there’s us!” For a band who satirised attempts of music fans and bands to remain relevant (Losing My Edge), it is perhaps ironic that they have remained cool 20 years on, despite the vain and somewhat dodgy attempts by James Murphy to stay modern.
When I think about it, it is almost surreal to be cheering and dancing so vehemently for a guy my parents’ age
Before LCD came on, we were greeted by James Righton of Klaxons fame. He brought us into a party mood as he danced around the stage with as much camp as vocal chops. Shamefully, my friend and I had no idea who he was until he played a piano rendition of the Klaxons hit, ‘Golden Skans’ to close out. It was a nice touch to bring us back into the world of 2000s “indie sleaze”.
The stage set up is always incredible at an LCD gig because they recreate every single sound live. There were two drum kits and a set of bongos, about four synthesizer setups, as well as two guitar players and a bass player, and of course, James Murphy, clutching his signature vintage microphone. Having studied the set lists of the previous four nights, I had some idea of what to expect, but this time they opened with ‘Yr City’s a Sucker’, followed by the classic ‘Daft Punk Is Playing at My House’. These earlier songs, rawer and more energetic, sounded massive. The bass and raspy synth sounds meshed in a way that encapsulated the early 2000s indie scene, as if we were living within the pages of Meet Me in The Bathroom.
Following on we heard tracks from Sound of Silver and This is Happening with a neat excerpt of Kraftwerk’s ‘Radioactivity’ to intro ‘I Can Change’. Later on, Tribulations was another highlight, again striking that nostalgic chord. The energy and feel-good sounds of ‘Home’ further built up the atmosphere as we anticipated the encore, knowing the hits were saved until then.
As they returned to the stage, the tension in the academy soared. The eagerness of the crowd morphed into restlessness as Dance Yrself Clean approached its famous drop. Closing out were the anthems, ‘New York I Love You…’ and ‘All My Friends’. The crowd moved like a wave in time with the beats; there was a synergy between band and audience. We felt the 20 years of music flooding the hall and were moved, emotionally and physically. They played the hits, we danced, we even cried (well I pretty much did) and went home with one more thing checked off the bucket list.