Wednesday 5 September 2012

Shut Up And Play The Hits - LCD Soundsystem

Last night Lynn and I enjoyed a rare midweek 'date' to the pictures, the lovely Glasgow Film Theatre, to see 'Shut Up And Play The Hits', a documentary about the end of LCD Soundsystem, centred around their final epic show at Madison Square Gardens.

We arrived at the GFT a full hour before the 8.40pm showing. With the knowledge that it was a sell-out we wanted to get a couple of drinks in the bar and good seats.

In the lead up to the main fetaure we were 'treated' to some 'live from the red carpet' footage from the premier in the Hackney Empire in London. A rather enthusiastic and annoying presented caught up with Al Doyle (Hot Chip and LCD), James from the Klaxons, the producers and some fans, some of whom must have been set up.

Anyway, eventually (and this may have been meant) we did get to the stage where the audience were thinking 'Shut Up And Play The Hits'. 

This flashes up at the start of the film and kind of sets the tone for the concert side of things; an epic celebration of the music and idealism of LCD Soundsystem during a 4-hour show to a sell-out crowd of 18,000 people at Madison Square Garden.

It is the party to end all parties, champage, special guests like Arcade Fire on backing vocals for 'North American Scum', balloons from the roof, music, dancing and romancing (some great footage of a couple lost in music and each other with a big kiss at one point).

The celebration side of things is balanced by the complete come-down captured in the immediate aftermath of the show. I loved the way that this was portrayed. We had Murphy waking up in his cool NYC loft apartment still wearing his shirt from the night before, cuddling his dog, taking his dog out for a piss, feeding his dog, shaving, listening to answer phone messages, riding the subway, going to his office and basically wondering what the hell he was going to do with his life.

This in itself was counter-balanced by footage of Murphy being interviewed by an extremely inquisitive American journalist. It worked exceptionally well with Murphy being equally humourous and extremely open about his thoughts and feelings.

 The concert footage is fantastic. The producers capture how cavernous the venue is, the roof looks like it is a giant space station, the crowd is vast, yet on stage LCD Soundsystem make it seem intimate by all grouping together surrounded by various banks of equipment.

'All My Friends' is dropped early doors to a round of applause by the audience. The footage from Madison Square Gardens slowly but surely becomes more euphoric as the party goes on; 'Movement' and 'Us and Them' capture the band merging punk, funk, techno, electro, garage and psych all at once - the beauty of LCD.

Footage cuts starkly and dramatically to post-concert dressing room scenes, to Murphy riding the subway or getting a car back to his flat gazing out at the New York skyline, the comedown setting in already.

In the interview we learn that Murphy is in his early 40's and wants to settle down and have kids. He is worried about the effect that touring has on him, stating that in the 2-years he didn't tour between 'Sound Of Silver' and 'This Is Happening' that he didn't get a single grey hair but as soon as he went on the road for the last time he started getting greyer and he wondered what this was doing to him on the inside.

We also learn of Murphy's satisfaction in practically everything LCD and DFA Records have recorded and released and that after 3 albums he wants to end on a high. He likes the fact that he is 'moderately successful', not overly successful/famous, he likes that he can walk his dog and ride the subway.

Some of the camera shots and positioning for the concert footage are incredible, different enough to make it original. So we have the brilliant footage of the mosh pit from directly above, cameras between amps and keyboards, in the crowd, in the photo pit....all capturing the experience.

'Losing My Edge' is predictably brilliant with Murphy also talking about how much it means to him and although people see humour in it, he was talking from the heart. He'd been playing The Stooges while high on E, mixing everything up from his considerable collection (some great shots of that in the flat scenes), now kids were coming up from behind and he was feeling threatened.

Murphy wanders from his office to the LCD storage space to check everything is in. This is probably my favourite scene in the movie, it tugs on the heartstrings. Murphy looks on at the equipment the band have built up, the thoughts running through his mind must have been similar to what were going through my mind. He was thinking of the memories, the music that has been made and played, the good times... and he cries.

This was the funeral scene, the realisation that the band had died. The concert had been the celebration. Murphy was now in mourning.

The film ends with LCD Soundsystem playing 'New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down' cutting to footage of the band having a dinner in a hip New York restaurant, drinking, sharing memories. 

Thanks for the memories James. I hope there is more to come.


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