Almost five years to the day that dance-punk pioneers LCD Soundsytem played their ‘final’ gig in New York – on April 2, 2011 at the city’s 20,000 capacity Madison Square Gardens – James Murphy and co last night returned to the stage. The first of two gigs at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom, which holds just 1500 people, the shows were announced the previous Thursday. “BACK FROM THE DEAD” announced the promotional poster boldly, riffing off the (presumably calculated) date of their return. “LCD Soundsystem will rise from the dead this Easter Sunday at Webster Hall.”
Tickets were made available via a lottery system, though a pre-sale opportunity was also offered to those who’d purchased three-day tickets to New York’s Panorama Festival, which LCD Soundsystem will headline on Sunday, July 24. Announced the day after the band revealed they’d also be headlining Chicago’s Lollapalooza, demand for the two gigs was unsurprisingly high, causing the TicketWeb site to crash.
The excitement was just as palpable on the night of their resurrection, too, though the band were keen to warn people this was a warm-up show ahead of their first festival appearance this year at Coachella. In fact, they were clearly taking precautions in case anybody’s expectations were too high. “TEST IN PROGRESS,” read the marquee lettering on the outside of the venue where the band’s name would normally be. “PLEASE STAND BY.”
And that’s exactly what people did, a packed crowd waiting impatiently in front of the band’s elaborate and impressive onstage set-up. There was no support act, just a DJ spinning vinyl from the sound desk on the balcony from the moment doors opened at 8pm until a few minutes after 10pm, when, to a jubilant roar, the band walked onstage. The crowd’s reaction was deafening as they launched into ‘Get Innocuous!’, the first of a 14 and a quarter song set that spanned their entire career.
The quarter is the live debut of ‘One Touch’, from 2010’s third record, ‘This Is Happening’, which is abandoned almost as soon as it begins due to a faulty synthesiser. If that causes a moment of panic, it doesn’t last long. LCD follow up with a raucous version of ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ that sees the New York band find their groove and hit a pace that barely lets up the rest of the night. They bring out the horns for ‘Freak Out’, run through the history of music (or at least Murphy’s DJ sets) by rewinding to the start of their career with ‘Losing My Edge’ and finish the main set with the relatively mellow ‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’. The encore is a double whammy of ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ and ‘All My Friends’, during which the crowd’s excitement shakes the venue’s floor to its foundations.
Although LCD Soundsystem did recently announce they’d begun working on new material, there was no sign of it tonight. Instead, this was a night for the band to find their feet in front of a live audience. Despite that one major misstep, that’s exactly what they did. “It’s been a hot minute,” a clearly humbled and relieved Murphy said to the crowd at one point. “This is still very weird.” It was one of few occasions that anyone in the band addressed the crowd in the two hours they were onstage, but that didn’t really matter. It was clear there was only one thing of importance to everyone present – the simple fact they were playing these songs again. To paraphrase a famous quote that gets bandied about this time of year, they are risen.
LCD Soundsystem played:
‘One Touch’ (aborted)
‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’
‘Us Vs Them’
‘You Wanted A Hit’
‘Losing My Edge’
‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’
‘Dance Yrself Clean’
‘All My Friends’