Live Reviews: LCD Soundsystem/Hot Chip, Alexandra Palace, London

Wednesday, November 10

Like two laser beams conjoining to form a wall-melting death-ray of gawk-dance euphoria, fewer musical combinations make more sense than [a]LCD Soundsystem[/a] and [a]Hot Chip[/a]’s decision to team up for a joint headline tour. And for more than just musical reasons, too.

James Murphy is a shuddering bag of nerves before every show, let alone when he’s on last in a cavern the size of Ally Pally. So beyond the pleasure of having one of his favourite bands playing before him and available for tourbus poker sessions afterwards, it must be a comfort to know he’s touring with pretty much the only man as remotely close to being an unlikely a frontman as he is.
Not that puppy-voiced crooner Alexis Taylor lacks confidence. [a]Hot Chip[/a], four albums in, are close to precision-tooled. They’re masters of pacing, segueing and generally timing their shows like a skin-pricklingly ambient chem-trip. Though yet to make their own ‘Sound Of Silver’ album masterpiece, their setlist is a demonstration of how many times they have touched greatness. ‘And I Was A Boy From School’, ‘One Life Stand’ and ‘Over And Over’ all straddle the blade dividing lobe-rush dance sensibilities and massive pop – the latter now with new guitar riff-tweaks spiking through it, keeping a song that could sound over-exposed flower-fresh.

Impressive stuff, but coming onstage at 7.50pm, Alexis’ introduction to the sold-out crowd acknowledges a problem – he thanks people for leaving work early to make the show. It really does need to be past two-pint-o’-clock for this kind of thing; the band’s impeccable momentum is only hindered by the lack of late-night crowd surges required to properly fuel it.

That’s not a problem for [a]LCD Soundsystem[/a] – the opening twangs of ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ instantly put everyone in a dark, 3am headspace. James, hunched and not knowing quite where to look when holding his mic, has his usual endearingly clumsy onstage presence, shot through with vulnerability and a sharp sense of truth that underlines the songs. And what songs – pumped to life by his deliriously tight and powerful band, harnessed by Pat Mahoney’s wall-shatter drum thumps, the likes of ‘I Can Change’ and set-closer ‘Home’, played in front of light bursts resembling Manhattan skyscrapers, fly us to James’ New York as thrillingly as [a]Jay-Z[/a] did with ‘Empire State Of Mind’ on the same stage last November. Although his merch was slightly better.

Jamie Fullerton