It’s a dank, miserable Wednesday in late September and the imminent transition from autumn to winter hangs heavy in the air. This is certainly alleviated by having one of the golden tickets for the hottest residency in town, as LCD Soundsystem take over the Olympia Theatre for three nights, hot on the heels of the release of American Dream, their first Billboard #1 record and first post reformation.
There are the usual trappings of an LCD show, a disco ball is the centre piece of the production, the stage appears to have far more gear than is prudent strewn across it, and there’s a buzz of anticipation in the air ahead of one of the most eagerly anticipated shows to hit Dublin in recent years.
Initial reunion shows, based around large scale festivals were celebratory efforts, settling back into a familiar groove. Here, we see a band re-energised by new material with a new lease of life as a group. The insidious groove of ‘Get Innocuous’ opens proceedings, bringing the seated crowd in the old venue to their feet instantaneously. The sound is pristine, and where in the past there have been occasional tech issues to be endured due to the array of vintage gear employed for any of their appearances, here the only nod to any potential difficulties is a drum tech perched on an armchair behind drummer Pat Mahoney. James Murphy apologises for their positioning onstage, several feet back from the lip to allow for the dropping of a safety curtain if required, but reassures us that they are “close in spirit”.
Introducing the crowd to Mahoney continues to be an oft used trope when performing; ‘This is Pat’ brings us to ‘I Can Change’, sounding better than ever. “We’re gonna play a mix of old songs and new songs,” Murphy explains, “that’s what rock bands do.” ‘Call The Police’ has a weightier delivery in a live setting, while ‘I Used To dials’ ups the iciness on the arrangement, harsh, cold soaring synths, mining 80’s post punk throughout.
We’re told that their friend Marcus (on opening duties with a Shit Robot DJ set) advised them to play this very venue ten years ago, “sorry it took so long” – Shit Robot; excellent recommendation – this is the perfect setting for this run of shows.
‘You Wanted a Hit’ is another track that comes to life in a live setting, while the traditional double whammy of ‘Tribulations’ into ‘Movement’ is a delight as ever. As the set progresses, there’s a transition to more emotive selections. ‘Yeah’ is an incessant workout, transitioning into ‘Someone Great’ and centre-piece and title track of the new record ‘American Dream’. Both are stunning. ‘American Dream’ suffers in places from a slightly murky mix, but soars as 50’s indebted backing vocals are added near the coda. ‘Tonite’ also grows legs in a live setting, propelled by Mahoney and a squelchy synth hook, centring on Murphy’s traditional lyrical focus on the passage of time. Murphy sheepishly explains their requirement for an encore “We gotta pee, we’re old” and return they do, ‘Losing My Edge’ and ‘Emotional Haircut’ set the stage for the anticipated climatic one-two of ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ and ‘All My Friends’.
Recorded, LCD Soundsystem is something of an autocracy, James Murphy plays most instruments, bringing in trusted lieutenants, Al Doyle for a guitar line here, Mahoney to add drums there, but live, the power of personality of the collective shines through. This is a group that thrive performing together, they are very much back and as good as they’ve ever been.
LCD Soundsystem photographed for State by Mark Earley.