LCD Soundsystem review – revenant dance-rockers play the hits

O2 Brixton Academy, London
Even if James Murphy’s cred has taken a hit of late, the frontman still aces the anthems that gave the band its powerful punk-disco potency

Multiple-night residencies have become an a la mode currency for artists who have the pulling power to fill arenas, yet still prefer to sweat it out within touching distance of the faithful. For LCD Soundsystem, that means a weeklong takeover at Brixton Academy in celebration of their 20th anniversary, with ringleader James Murphy, this century’s pre-eminent disco evangelist, opting only to rest on the fourth, not seventh, day.

Murphy’s reputation as a generational mouthpiece has taken a few knocks in recent years, chiefly the result of his vacillation between relatable world-weariness and questionable grand gestures: attempting 20 dates in New York during last winter’s Covid spike, shilling for crypto, or reversing course after an extravagantly ballyhooed retirement.

No one inside Brixton appears to care. The atmosphere is carnivalesque, with a locked-in crowd following Murphy’s barked ad-libs and trailing syllables wherever they lead. Surging roars greet a pillar of light refracting off an overhead disco ball during Get Innocuous!, the slow-cresting opener on LCD’s masterpiece, 2007’s Sound of Silver, and they get louder still as a silhouetting curtain of actual LCDs spark up in the shape of DFA’s lightning logo. Later, Someone Great’s pulsing synth lead is repurposed as a terrace chant, which you’d assume Murphy didn’t anticipate when penning the ode to the passing of his therapist.

LCD Soundsystem at O2 Brixton Academy.
Spasmodic and playful .. LCD Soundsystem at O2 Brixton Academy. Photograph: John Williams/REX/Shutterstock

The group are spasmodic and playful throughout. Al Doyle, also of Hot Chip – surely the hardest working guitarist in indie – seems to spend most of the two-hour set with both feet off the ground, while Murphy patrols the stage, high kicking Pat Mahoney’s crash cymbal one moment then genuflecting to Nancy Whang with microphone in hand the next. (Brixton’s notoriously muddy PA, though, smothers his between-song bon mots and renders the all-important cowbell impotent.)

While the encore has a buzzer-beating sprint through the band’s gold-plated anthems (New York I Love You …, Dance Yrself Clean, All My Friends), the show leans heavily on early material, and in doing so, flexes one of the unit’s truest strengths: their frazzled percussive workouts punch just as hard as their compact disco-punk jams. It’s these full-flow moments where LCD attain absolute synchrony with the audience and themselves, and come across as the kind of modern analogue to Talking Heads at the peak of their powers. Self-mythologising may get under the skin of some; countered by the fact that LCD Soundsystem can, at least, back it up.

• At O2 Brixton Academy until 3 July.


Gabriel Szatan

The GuardianTramp

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