April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
One of the sucky things about growing up is seeing your favorite bands continue to produce music well past their expiration date. Plenty of musicians seem to be content to drag out their careers as long as humanly possible. So it’s always refreshing to see an artist finding the exact right moment to call it quits, when they are at the peak of their game. Still, it was bittersweet when James Murphy announced the end of LCD Soundsystem, marked with a final show at Madison Square Garden on April 2nd.
I was lucky enough to score a very last minute pit ticket (and no, it wasn’t from a scalper) to the show Muprhy dubbed “The Long Goodbye”. The show itself had been heavily hyped as a three hour set and promised special guests. Even with a few Terminal 5 shows added to accommodate fans, everyone knew the MSG show was the true final statement by Murphy. Just how would he close out the incredible ten year run of LCD Soundsystem?
Saturday night, the energy inside MSG was spilling over. By the time LCD hit that amazing first crescendo in the opener “Dance Yrself Clean,” the crowd was ready to tear the roof off. Murphy was obviously the focus of the show, but his backups were as tight and precise as ever, with staples Pat Manhoney and Nancy Whang joined by transplants Tyler Pope (!!!), Al Doyle (Hot Chip), and Gavin Russom. LCD’s constantly rotating backing band actually became a theme of the night, as Murphy brought out former members to play on older songs.
Along with the usual standards of any LCD show, the MSG set threw in some curveballs for the devoted fans. It was great to hear the rarely (or never) played songs such as “Too Much Love”, “Tired”, and “Sound Of Silver” along with covers of “Jump Into The Fire” and “Bye Bye Bayou”.
The second half of the show started with chopped up, extended jam on Murphy’s workout mix “45:33”, and featured DFA labelmates Shit Robot, a brass band, choir, as well as comedien Reggie Watts dueting with Murphy. Aziz Ansari made a guest appearance in a comedy video played during one of the brief intermissions. And of course, the biggest, most joyous surprise of the night was the Arcade Fire providing the backup vocals for an amped up rendition of “North American Scum”.
By the time the show was diving into its third hour, with the iconic “Yeah” punctuating a long string of hits, there was never a sense of sadness from Murphy, or even the inkling that this was really their final show. During “Losing My Edge”, the band kicked into a mini-cover of “Da Funk” after the infamous “Daft Punk to rock kids” line.
When Murphy announced it would be their last song, and the crowd moaned in sadness. In the way only James Murphy could do, mixing humor, cynicism, and joy, he told the crowd to cheer for the closing number. The crowd erupted into the biggest applause of the night. And then they played a perfect version of “New York I Love You,” as white balloons fell over the thousands of fans during the final reprise. A single balloon swam up on stage. Murphy picked it up, smiled, threw it back into the crowd, and walked off stage.
And that was the end of LCD Soundsystem.
By Wes Lagattolla, guest writer