LCD Soundsystem @ Cargo 05/03/07

Five years after the officially ordained best record of 2002 “Losing My Edge” and James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem are about to release their much anticipated second album “Sound of Silver”. Tonight’s super secret… not that secret club gig at Cargo is the first live outing for the new record, while James has also running the promotional interview circuit of late. His musings on travelling business class incurred the wrath of the Guardianista’s on his blog for the paper (nothing the middle class like more than screaming hypocrite!), he talked about digital music, age gaps, and Brian Eno to FACT magazine, and best of all he has a very entertaining winge to Remix magazine about Superstar DJ’s, how analogue still rules and the evils of laptops:

The momentousness of live music is so incredible and powerful. When you see a band with a laptop, you realise that it’s such a low-quality experience. The stage is interchangeable, the lights are interchangeable, the audience is interchangeable and the music is interchangeable.

If you bought a record, you don’t go and see the band live to re-experience the record. You might as well cut out the middleman and have a record-listening party instead of defrauding people out of the experience and numbing them to the low-quality live-music experience they are getting used to“.

True to his word the LCD live experience is that rare thing in electronic music, a laptop free show. All the recent non guitar acts I’ve seen, Daedelus, Scroobius Pip, Junior Boys, or Shadow Orchestra have featured a glowing apple logo centre stage, but tonight its vintage synths and cheap guitars all the way, plus more effects pedals than I’ve ever seen in my life. Murphy has spent the best part of 20 years playing in rock bands, and live LCD sound more like Electro punk, rawer, fresher, and more unpredictable than most electronic contemporaries.

There are camera’s scattered about the room as the gig is being filmed by EMI for future use, indeed as you walk in signs state that entry signifys consent for your image to be recorded and “distributed globally“. Most of the people here probably work in telly anyway.

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Looking every inch the non pop star Murphy ambles on resplendent in stubble and baggy t-shirt explaining that this is the first time they’ve played live in a long time… but he shoots straight back that’s not an excuse or anything. The band are made up of Nancy Whang on vintage synths, Pat Mahoney – drums, Phillip Skarich from The Dead String Brothers on guitar, and on loan from Hot Chip Al Doyle, who Murphy theatrically name checks between almost every song… “Ladies and Gentlemen AL!” cue huge applause, and a strange chant about Ray Parlour?

After one last fiddle with every piece of equipment on stage, and a few quick squirts of mouth spray we’re straight off into the new tracks “Us V Them” is first with big throbbing bass, cowbells and chicken-scratch guitars building to a full on drum percussion overload at the end. Its not what you call a gentle opener, especially when followed up with the stone cold classic “Daft Punk Are Playing In My House“, LCD are clearly not one of those bands who start slowly and build up.

With an apology about “don’t you just hate it when bands just play new stuff.. and ignore the oldies” its time for three more from the new album, “Time to get away“, “North American Scum“, and “All My Friends“. Of course 99% of the audience downloaded the tracks back in December when the album leaked so they’re greeted like old favourites and bellowed along to. There’s more danger of James forgetting the words than there is the crowd.

North American Scum was apparently the last thing recorded for the album with the sole purpose of being a sure fire live number, if the the nights going badly they’ll go mad to this one kind of thing. The night was far from going badly but it was most definitely loved.

The best responses of the evening went to “Watch The Tapes“, “Movement“, and the mesmeric “Yeah“, with the exception of Yeah not the tracks I expected as highlights. “Watch The Tapes” invites audience participation with its call and response opening of “Read All the Pamphlets“, over to you audience “AND WATCH THE TAPES“. We got a double helping of the sing-along when the initial take ground to a slightly tuneless halt.

Hello everyone I’d like to introduce Phillip on guitar, Philip is playing this song in D… the rest of us have gone for E“.

Tongue in cheek put down over they restarted and soon had everyone “ahhhh wooooo”ing along.

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Movement” found Murphy doing his finest Mark E Smith impression “I’m Tappped-uh” and the band in full on trash punk mode. Al thrashed the hell out of his guitar, feedback on overload, and Cargo gleefully pogoed along. It was probably the closest the night came to wild abandon, but that’s not a reflection on the music, just that London especially a crowd with a few older industry types present don’t really do wild abandon.

Yeah” was undoubtedly the highlight of the night, acid sounds burbled , the pulsing keyboards soared, cowbells were thumped, and it mutated over what seemed like 15 minutes. At one point it morphed into an inspired cover of Paperclip People’s “Throw” complete with ear splitting high pitched vocals (very impressively reached by James). Towards the end James relinquished vocals to indulge in some frenzied percussive battles with Hot Chips Al, while Nancy Wang turned every knob on the old synths to max. Building and building to total sensory overload, by the end the it left a few seconds of awe struck open jaws before the place erupted in applause.

James explained that there was time for one last number, and he meant the last one they weren’t going to go off hang around for a bit before dashing out again. “New York I Love You” was the first time the pace of the night had dipped, but it came across as surprisingly tender, and pretty, although my enjoyment of it is slightly muddied by the fact that it reminds me of Rawlf & Kermits Muppets duet “I hope that something better comes along (YouTube).

Ah, but what could be better than a saucy Irish setter
When puppy love comes on strong?
Or a collie that’s classy, a laddie needs a lassie,
A lover and wife gives you a new leash on life.

I realise it doesnt sound anything like it, but for some reason my brain links the two (heads off to find some stronger tablets).

Hopefully the larger shows later in the month will live up to tonight, and given Murphy’s perfectionism I’ve no doubt they will. Ever the picky producer throughout the set he would absent mindedly adjust the other bands members equipment, tweaking this knob a touch, turning that one down a tad. Even during the support act Prinzhorn Dance School he was by the stage with cup and saucer sipping tea, helpfully offering mid set to adjust something for them. The Horns bassist Suzi sweetly thanked him “Thank you James“… now that’s what I call a hands on producer.
Who would mind such fiddling if the end result is as good as this, and the sound so clear. I’ve seen more extravagant, more theatric shows, and I’ve seen more dashing front men, but I’ve not heard as much fantastic uplifting music in one night very often. It was so good I didn’t even realise they hadn’t played “Losing My Edge” until I got home… I demand a refund!

SETLIST

Us v Them
Daft Punk Are Playing In My House
Time To Get Away
North American Scum
All My Friends
Tribulations
Watch The Tapes
Movement
Yeah
Throw
New York I Love You

Prinzhorn Dance School were also on top form, with Suzi – looking great in long socks and pig tails – laying down fantastically floor shakingly brooding bass lines on top of which the drummer beat 10 shades of shit out of his drum kit (I’ve seriously never seen anyone smack anything as hard). If there is a slight criticism their sound can get a tiny bit repetitive. “Space Invader” was probably the best with its call and response chants, crashing drums and of course THAT bass from Suzi. Most of the tracks were equally good though with titles like “Grimsby Electric Pandah” (I may have made that one up?) and name checks to places like Mansfield. James is on the production controls so their debut album should be one to look out for.

LCD Soundsystem

Website / Myspace

Listen:

LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great” (MP3)

Prinzhorn Dance School – You Are The Space Invader“(MP3

Download a brand new DFA Spring 2000 Radio mix by visiting here

Buy:

Help get the album in the charts by buying it in its first week of release:

LCD Soundsystem – “Sound Of Silver£9 from Amazon UK / $11 from Amazon US

North American Scum” single with new B-side

Oddities:

TBC Poundsystem – Losing My Sledge” (MP3) – bizarre xmas version by £50 Note

LCD Soundsystem – “New York I Love You” (Youtube mashup remix)

LCD Catsystem – two people entertaining themseleves by mewing along to LCD in their car

Watch:

LCD Soundsystem – “North American Scum” (Live @ Cargo) (Youtube)

Look:

LCD Soundsystem Live @ Cargo 05/03/07 Flickr set

Read:

Fact Magazine interview

Remix magazine explore the LCD studio, and a funny chat about laptops, Superstar DJ’s etc

James Murphy’s Guardian blog

Talking to the Guardian about the contents of his record box, and in another interview, why the KLF must return!