James Murphy's cult-ironic tribe headlined the first night of London's own Coachella, All Points East
For James Murphy, everything must be considered, all aspects filtered through a postmodernist lens. “What should singers say?” he asks the crowd between songs, dissecting the very essence of frontmanship mid-gig, and during his tempestuous disco infernos he either stands stock still at the microphone as though contemplating the purpose of performance or wanders amongst his seven band members like a laboratory overseer, tinkering with floor toms and tweaking synthesisers, a modern maestro orchestrating his clubland crescendos.
Which naturally begs the question, what should an audience do? And the reunited LCD Soundsystem, the perfect cult headliners for the first night of London’s very own Coachella, cater for all-comers. You can, if you so wish, dive down the rabbit hole of ‘Tonite’ and sift through Murphy’s philosophical musings on pop culture’s relationship with mortality, delivered with the wry art-pop smirk of prime Talking Heads or David Bowie. Or you can, like the hordes of LCDemented nutjobs limboing under each others’ outstretched arms or flailing their around like Zumba classes spiked with PCP, cut loose and freak out to what’s undoubtedly the most epic intellectual dance rock experience on the planet.
Like a less face-kicky Josh Homme, Murphy parades his Bowie ambitions proudly on ‘Get Innocuous!’ – subway trains rattle through it, synths sizzle like a frisky Gorillaz, harmonies turn android-cranky in the Scary Monsters mould. But for the most part LCD spark the party. The likes of ‘You Wanted A Hit’, ‘Tribulations’ and ‘I Can Change’ resemble Studio 54 shaking itself free from the earth and drifting ecstatically off into the cosmos, and as the set develops hints of Afrotronica (on ‘How Do You Sleep?’) and calypso (‘Dance Yrself Clean’, a kind of minimalist remix of the Road To Rio soundtrack) its building beat-storms take on more primal tones. When keyboardist Nancy Whang takes the microphone for a cover of Chic’s ‘I Want Your Love’, it’s a piece of knowingly lightweight crowd-pleasing that only serves to emphasise the weight and impact of their own tunes.
They finish with a euphoric ‘All My Friends’, the sound of all of new wave colliding, setting APE spiralling off on its own unpredictable cult-fest trajectory. All compasses point east but what we’ll find there, on this showing, is anyone’s guess.
LCD Soundsystem’s setlist was:
You Wanted a Hit
I Can Change
Call the Police
I Want Your Love (Chic cover)
How Do You Sleep?
Dance Yrself Clean
All My Friends