Lovebox with LCD Soundsystem, Victoria Park, review: 'It’s obvious this is no cash in'

Shaun Curran
Tuesday 19 July 2016 10:43
LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy performs at Lovebox Festival, Victoria Park
LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy performs at Lovebox Festival, Victoria Park

In an era of high-profile comebacks, few reformations have proved as contentious as that of LCD Soundsystem. Having exited the New York dance-punk scene stage left at the top of their game in 2011 to much self-aggrandising fanfare – an epic, three-hour farewell gig in Madison Square Garden, a film documenting the epic three-hour farewell gig, a deluxe vinyl edition of the gig – James Murphy’s decision to bring his cult collective back just five years later has polarised opinion. Cash-in? Or artistic statement?

If people feel cheated – and some have stayed away on principle – it is only a sign of the regard with which LCD Soundsystem were held. But headlining Saturday night at Lovebox, it’s obvious this is no cash-in: from the moment Murphy appears in a white shirt as the funk introduction of “Us v Them” kicks off proceedings, age finally catching up with his looks, he sets the tone: the most unlikely of rock frontmen, he prowls the stage, snarling out lyrics, manically clattering the cowbell and drums with life-depends-on-it zeal. In this context, the idea of him running wine bars and making branded coffee, two of the post-retirement time-fillers, seems incongruous.

Behind him, a seven-piece unit are at the top of their game, precise while still bringing the party. “Daft Punk is Playing at my House” jolts the set into life, before the traditional one-two of “Tribulations” and “Movement” hits like an arrow: the former a throbbing disco assault, the latter an industrial throttle that sees Murphy screech noise from his amps Mark E Smith-style, a mid-set high. A hyperactive “Losing My Edge”, Murphy’s lament on hipsterdom, was all the more profound given the protagonist is of an age now where the sardonic narrative resonates.

The night ends, like all great nights surely must, on “All My Friends”, Murphy’s celebratory paean to place and time, friendship, ageing and the unifying nature of pop music. Its climax, after a single, impulsive seven-minute piano riff, is joy unconfined.

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