We all partied, as the saying goes. LCD Soundsystem called it a day in 2011, and their three-night run in Tripod in 2010 was one of the defining events at the long-lost Dublin venue – a sweaty pogo-fest from the floor to the balcony.
That whole tour was deemed a classic because of the split, a top trumps card to keep under your sleeve during point-scoring pub debates for years. Like the sad ageing hipster in LCD’s Losing My Edge, we’ll be claiming: “I was there”, thumbing through phone pics of band leader James Murphy and co on the Tripod stage in a blur of white suits and jerky dancing.
Luckily we don’t have to rely on wide-eyed mega-fan accounts and glitchy YouTube clips for posterity – the band’s epic four-hour swansong at Madison Square Garden in April 2011 was captured on Shut Up and Play the Hits, which aims for Last Waltz and Stop Making Sense territory, as a definitive live document.
Of course LCD Soundsystem’s demise turned out to be temporary. They announced their return after less than five years away – the length of time many bands take between albums and tours, with no emotional farewell. But they’ve beat the backlash by returning with five-star live reviews and an album that’s more of the same, but crucially not shit.
Still, it’s odd watching Shut Up and Play the Hits in the wake of the reunion, as it’s really framed around the break-up and a celebration of the band’s legacy. Maybe there’s a full concert movie waiting in the wings.
The film is split into three intertwining acts: the Madison Square Garden concert movie; backstage footage of giddy preparations for their biggest ever show, followed by the morning-after hangover, and an extended interview with music journo Chuck Klosterman, who tries to prise a few answers from Murphy – mainly why he pushed the ejector seat button while the band was still soaring.
After 10 years, three albums and universal critical acclaim for their dance-punk-funk-whatever hybrid, the 41-year-old Murphy says he bailed before becoming a rock star, saying: “It’s embarrassing.” He’s known as an arch contrarian, but the mask slips when he admits his biggest failure might be quitting while he’s ahead. We also catch him trudging the streets of New York in his pyjamas the day after, walking his pug, shedding a few tears at the band’s storage space.
The beautifully-shot concert footage tops the bill here, and caused a mass breakout of seat-dancing on the film’s opening night. The directors had 13 cameras trained on the stage and in the crowd, capturing overhead shots, panoramic views of the Garden, shaky footage of the pit, fans in tears, and a glassy-eyed band playing out of their skin, hugging and soaking it up with guests including Arcade Fire and Reggie Watts.
The film does its best to bottle the last-night-on-Earth atmosphere – framing the film around 11 songs chosen from 29 on the night. Murphy mixed the sound so it punches in all the right places, from the hollers on North American Scum to the indie disco hug-along All My Friends and the tender ode to their hometown, New York I Love You (But You’re Bringing Me Down).
At the time few thought Murphy made the right decision killing the band, but as the opening title says: “If it’s a funeral, let’s have the best funeral ever.” And who wouldn’t be happy for a loved one to come back?