LCD Soundsystem/Art Brut, Brixton Academy, London

Lock into the heavy silicone, baby!
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The Independent Culture

'Stay away from Pete Doherty," cautions Eddie Argos, all socked feet and caterpillar eyebrows. "He's a bad man." "If he is so great," continues his pre-rehearsed rant, "why can't he take this world and take it straight? And he's got a shit arm... and it's a shit tattoo." The singer with Art Brut specialises in this kind of cheerful iconoclasm, whacking contemporary rock's sacred cows in the arse with a metaphorical banjo. (In the space of one song, they reference Axl Rose, Morrissey and Peter, Paul & Mary).

Argos is a believer in breaking down the barrier between band and audience, or (at one point tonight) literally vaulting it. It's all about connection, communication. No cool diffidence here. Over a shambolic but endearing indie racket, he sings about fashionistas, the con of punk rock, missing your childhood sweethearts, ("Emily Kane" is their "It Started With A Kiss" or "Friday Night") and, brilliantly, brewer's droop: "I'm so very sorry... I promise it won't happen again... It doesn't mean I don't love you... Please don't tell your friends." Art Brut are shaping up to be a less antagonistic Dexys or a more melodic Fall, albeit from a higher social stratum than either. Of course, I may be mistaken about this, but the fact that the new guitarist (replacing Chris Chinchilla) is called "Jasper from Bournemouth" suggests it's a fairly secure assumption.

Before you even realise the between-bands CD has ended, LCD Soundsystem have crept up on you. Maracas are being shaken, cowbells are being tapped, James Murphy is telling us our "city is a sucker" into his Sinatra mic, and we're under way.

A chubby lad with a nasal voice and a disturbing habit of groping his own manboobs (he isn't obese or anything, but he clearly enjoys a traditional New York breakfast), Murphy is not an obvious star.

Perhaps that's why the Academy is so sparsely attended tonight. LCD Soundsystem, or perhaps their promoters, have overestimated their appeal on a chilly night. There are, I think to myself, only so many Hoxtonites to go around.

LCD/DFA are better-known for their work with other artists (notably The Rapture and Soulwax), but their own debut album is one of the most satisfying dance collections this century, particularly if you enjoy spotting Eighties influences such as the robo-beat of The Normal's "Warm Leatherette", the proto-house of Visage's "Damned Don't Cry" and the sequencer funk of Japan's "Quiet Life".

LCD's own best-known tunes are both dropped early. "Losing My Edge", built on one of the pre-set rhythms from an old Casio PT-30 keyboard from the Eighties, is a hipster's "Sympathy For The Devil", in which Murphy claims to have been present at countless über-credible turning points in pop history: "the first Can show in Cologne. The first Suicide practices in their loft in Brooklyn. In Jamaica during the great soundclashes. Naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988..." "Daft Punk Is Playing In My House" continues the theme, a ludicrous boast of his own coolness. Social commentary that you can dance to.

And you really can. Murphy's quintet (occasionally growing to a septet) are simultaneously imponderably tight and wonderfully loose. Sometimes their locked grooves approach trance-inducing repetitiveness, and you think you're getting bored, until suddenly they pump up the volume - not so much heavy metal as heavy silicone, powered by heavy electricity - and you realise that your entire body is shaking.

When Murphy announces that this is LCD's last London show in a long time, there are howls of dismay. "What do you mean 'boo'?!" he asks. "You're here."

s.price@independent.co.uk

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