I have always been a bit of an LCD Soundsystem sceptic - yet something compelled me to buy this video.
By and large it's compelling stuff from beginning to end: the band's last performance in its entirety, which must run for the best part of four hours. It's a mark of this group's class that they can pace a set of this length so well and retain interest throughout. Instrumentals and interludes are cleverly used as a way of giving the audience a mental break. The performance, in its style of execution, if not in sound, is somewhere between a jazz supergroup and an orchestral concert. James Murphy, though still "the main man", doesn't hog the limelight, and nor do any of his colleagues - which include virtually all of his DFA Records' and LCD Soundsystem collaborators past and present. At times there must be upwards of 20 people performing at once - which left me thinking that this must have been one hell of a piece of work to rehearse apart from anything else.
The style of filming is also very clever, at times giving you a performer's eye view. It's also a well-packaged set with a fair amount of extras - some interesting and some, ahem, a bit daft ("Catching Up With Keith"?)
I watched the DVD (well Blu-ray, actually) in the order of disc 2, disc 3 and then disc 1 i.e. the concert first and the documentary second. Whilst this is probably the best order to watch it in, a word of warning: the documentary does use a lot of the concert footage, so one small criticism is that it's a bit repetitive. Another minor disappointment is that the documentary mainly focuses on Murphy and leaves out the other band members. For me, though the concert is the "main feature".
Overall the style of presentation is, for someone who prefers generally to listen to music rather than watch it, a bit if a benchmark. It certainly made me want to go back and reassess the LCD Soundsystem albums.
This sumptious three disc set is the definitive funeral. The film itself - "Shut Up And Play The Hits" - is one of the most fitting rock films of recent memory. Whilst you can wonder, what is the point of a film about a band splitting up of its own violition being anything other than self-indulgent, this film is is about something bigger : about grief and loss and adjustment in the midst of everyday life. Punctuated by a trio of events - an erudite interview with James Murphy and Chuck Klosterman, live footage of the final show, and the 48 hours surrounding the show, it covers the gamut of emotions that come with any event of a similar nature. The joy, and ecstasy of dancing and release, as the crowd take their last communion and dance their legs down to the knees (every shot of the crowd is a crazy fug of bouncing hipsters), combined with a tearful distraught, finality at the close. The last time I saw a crowd so visibly exhausted and deflated was at the end of Morrissey's first solo tour in 1991 - with no indication he would ever play again, isolated pockets of heartbroken fans were sobbing inconsolably on the floor in a crumpled, exhausted heap. Cut to the quiet, and broken visit to the bands rented rehearsal space the day after. Murphy sits in a chair and stares at the equipment that, less than 24 hours before, was in front of 17,000 people at Maidson Square Garden ready to bring a Wrestling Arena to its knees.
And we have all been here. A key moment in our world has come to an end. Sometimes of our choosing. And sometimes not. The end of a job. Redundancy. Being dumped. Leaving, or being left. We carry on. Life doesn't stop. We still get hungry. Still need coffeee. Still need to walk the dog, pick up the messages, and consider the next move. Three hours after the love of my life abandoned the ship, I was eating a sandwich. Life doesn't forgive or forget but pounds on as relentless as our heartbeat. This film is about that moment : when you have to continue. When your to do list is "1., Wake Up 2. Survive 3. Carry On Again Tomorrow. " This is what this film is about - transition, change, loss and the euphoria of one last glorious moment before the inevitable spiritual hangover of the morning after. It is a poignant film that captures the boredom of life, the inevitable midlife crisis, the questioning of reality - and whether we define life or let life define us - which is explored in the interview with Klosterman where he reveals the unshocking truth that there is only so much time, and so much left to do, and maybe he's just had enough for this kind of thing. Like a pop version of Danny Glover. "I'm getting too old for this." It's a poignant ending as even though it is a moment of his own choosing, that it still carries a price, when the life he has lived for a decade has now come to an end - and where do you go from the end?
Disc 2 and 3 capture the full, final live show : it is absurd, brilliant, and, at 210 minutes long, stunning : every song LCD have ever played and many they haven't are performed, complete with an astronaut horn section, a reproduction space capsule and alien invasion, guest vocalists and musicians, dancing, singing and playing their arses off to a capacity crowd. Most of their discography is performed in a vibrant concert area that is both - B-Sides, A-Sides, covers and all - whilst Murphy leads the band as a kind of ringleader whilst around 40 people - a choir and horn section, alongside the 11 core members of live LCD and others combine to create / reproduce LCD's peculiarly individual assortment of dancable, rhythmic self-aware drama. But at the same time, the band play without it ever feeling like padding or dragging it out : because they didn't just shut up and play the hits, but they just wrote good songs, full stop. This enormous, six hour set contains not only their final fantastic show, but also a poighnant, touching documentary that is shorn of context and captures just the 48 hours around the funeral of one of the best groups of the past decade. Nostalgia is bunk : to see what we remember and recall becoming history is part of the human experience. What the future holds no one knows, but we can make it the future we want to see. This is certainly the most intruiging music film since "Some Kind Of Monster", that, like all the best films, answers a question we maybe never even knew we needed to answer : how do we survive the changes of life whilst also staying alive? Live through this.
on 18 October 2012
While there's probably a great documentary to be made about the history of the band, this focuses solely on their final night and the day that follows. A superbly shot, massive sounding live show is interwoven with Chuck Klosterman interviewing James Murphy and footage of the latter discussing his thoughts and feelings on the day after the gig. He seems to take the finality of it all in his stride, until a touching moment where, surrounded by the band's equipment (shortly to be sold off) he breaks down and has a bit of a cry in their storage space. It's just a tiny moment of sadness outweighed by a feeling of triumph and going out on a high. If only all bands knew when to call it a day: RIP LCD.
on 13 January 2014
Big fan of Mr Murphy and co, but watching this concert took my respect for him and his band to another level- I saw them at Brixton a few years ago and they were good, but this film? They are just awesome, so tight and together it seems a real shame that we won't (or will we?) see them live again or any new material.
Reminiscent of Talking heads at their best (Byrne and co must have been a massive influence!) with guest appearances from the likes of Arcade Fire, the gig is way over three hours long but it just dazzles!
If you want to see a band at the top of their game buy this movie - love it! Hope James Murphy changes his mind and decides to get the band back together and make more great music!
on 7 December 2012
This is a film highlighting LCD Soundsystem's last concert at MSG in New York and its build up and and aftermath. The central question of this documentary is what next? For James Murphy, the LCD Soundsystem front man, the answer is uncertain. We see him making coffee in his flat, taking his dog for a walk, going out for lunch with friends. The end of the band allows for a little normality.
A great DVD offering a sincere picture of a musician trying to understand what he's achieved and what he will do next after the post-breakup limbo period.
on 19 January 2014
Contemplative and mind blowing, humorous and poignant, objective and immersive, sad and joyous. Fabulous, exciting, happy, happy,happy LOUD MUSIC! And the Concert audience were just so totally into it!!!! Everything I hoped it would be. BUT. Some interview/speech sections inaudible and, so, annoying.