No band in recent memory have laid claim with such strength to the humble disco ball.
Ever since it adorned the artwork for their self-titled debut at the turn of the millennium, LCD Soundsystem’s synonymity with the discotheque’s most identifiable piece of ephemera is potent. It hangs at every gig they play and, when deployed in a setting as intimate as Amsterdam’s Paradiso, it acts a quite breathtaking reflector.
Of course, LCD Soundsystem could play bigger venues than this, but halfway through the gig James Murphy says: “We’ve played here before and had a great time, so we thought ‘ah fuck it, we’d come back.’” Off the back of securing their first Billboard No. 1 album and a torrent of hugely positive reviews for new record American Dream, this comment is revealing. The energy they bring to the shows they choose to play gives them a vitality. You would never want a band whose songs are so packed with the soul of the lead singer to ever roll through the motions. Tonight is intimate, loud and in places utterly compelling.
In retrospect, choosing to showcase only four tracks from the new record seemed a strange choice, but opening with a litany of older material (Yr City’s a Sucker, Get Innocuous, Daft Punk Is Playing At My House) certainly got people into the gig early. Although, with the new material being so lauded, it might have been good to hear some of the more expansive tracks on the new album in the live setting. We do, however, get all the big numbers. What’s more, the way You Wanted A Hit segues into Tribulations is totally masterful and, as the punk-electro onslaught of Movement bleeds into the opening bars of Someone Great, the swagger with which they operate as a live act is palpable.
This is a band that exudes confidence: Nancy Whang looks as infallible as ever, expressionless contrasted against Al Doyle’s dramatic movements. Gavin Russom’s modulations are given extra potency with her confident presence while Pat Mahoney’s drumming is the unwavering engine room.
Importantly, Murphy is now the frontman he always believed he could be. His chatter is funny without feeling contrived and the way he parades around the stage, picks up the cowbell or spontaneously joins his bandmates on their instruments is done in the manner of someone with a real claim to the stage they occupy.
More remarkably, he is now singing in the traditional sense. The way he holds notes, particularly on the melancholic balladry of American Dream, sounds quite unlike I’ve ever heard him before. This new element to his arsenal as a performer further justifies the band’s return to the stage.
The predictable closing double of Dance Yrself Clean and All My Friends is basked in the light emanating from the aforementioned mirror device. The unlikely success of their much maligned comeback continues.