There really isn’t a star rating that can fully encapsulate the whirlwind of emotions felt by the crowd in Manchester on Wednesday. But, we’ll give the last stop on LCD Soundsystem’s run of sold out UK dates a solid five of them.
Striding onstage to a graciously mixed run of beats, curtesy of loyal support act Shit Robot, James Murphy embraces his old friend as the band slowly take their places under the mammoth scale mirror ball. It’s a humbling start to what would inevitably be anything but a casual Wednesday evening in Manchester.
A hollowing drum beat carves out the band’s opener, ‘You wanted a hit’; a track so perfectly tongue in cheek, as Murphy chimes “we don’t do hits”, as the set unravels into a chain of undeniable, hits.
The first of the sequence being ‘Tribulations’, taken from their eponymous debut. Soaring electronic beats help to loosen off the sold-out audience’s hump day blues. Murphy takes the time to apologise for the distance between the eight-piece band and the crowd, remarking that the moment is not lost because “emotionally, we’re close”.
The band are introduced one by one, with vocalist Nancy Whang garnering the biggest cheers from fans, which leads into a sample of Kraftwerk’s Radiative before ‘I Can Change’ rides in. Momentum builds for synth-heavy ‘Get innocuous!’. As the track progresses, Nancy’s steadfast chants of “don’t it make you feel alive” works wonders on those in the balcony, telekinetically commanding them to come out of their seats. There is a pure sense of awe from the crowd, as the song comes to a close with a minute of explosive production. This is followed by ‘Yr City’s a Sucker’, which had its humble beginnings as a B-side back in 2005 yet has evolved into Murphy’s favourite song to play live.
The set takes a step back from the electronic sounds that LCD Soundsystem are best known for. As guitar fuelled ‘Movement’ heralds back to the early days of the electro-rock outfit, the crowd welcome this throwback track with open arms and bodies stepped into motion.
‘Someone Great’ is driven by pure energy, sending out waves of euphoria in every moment, fans matching Murphy’s impressive falsetto to the note. From here, we are launched into the funky beats of ‘tonite’, another taste of their stunning comeback album (albeit with the most questionable album art), that evolves into a real highlight of the set, blending in seamlessly with the band’s back catalogue. Set against the backdrop of a thousand twinkling star lights, ‘Home’ is a beautiful addition to the setlist, its intimacy explicit, lifting the vocals and thoughts to the clouds with every layer of the track.
For the first point in the evening, Murphy takes a step back as Nancy takes centre stage to deliver a seamless rendition of Chic’s ‘I Want Your Love’. Her confidence ripples throughout the venue as the band take a low-key break. Murphy jokes “So, we’ll play a song then we may leave to pee for a second. This happens without any encouragement – just talk among yourselves.”
They make their return to the stage with the atmospheric ‘how do you sleep?’, every slap of percussion makes a statement, it’s hard to believe the American Dream track has only just made it onto the setlist. This is followed up by other American Dream extracts, the sugar sweet ‘Oh Baby’ and ‘Emotional Haircut’.
The New York octet have the Manchester residents in the palm of their hands by this point, but Murphy butters them up to great effect, announcing they spent three hours in Piccadilly Records. Mancunians: “You don’t know how lucky you are to have something like that!”. It seems taking the time out has only improved the band’s ability to put on a show, with ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ upping the energy to even greater heights, a plethora of red and blue lights flash with every change in beat, adding a dramatic edge to the hit, which closes with a trademark kick in the air.
The set comes to an electrifying close with ‘All My Friends’; the anthemic antidote to loneliness brings bodies into unison, there isn’t a person in sight who isn’t jumping, eyes wide with joy, lost in the moment. New friends are found on the dancefloor and the elation continues long after the band depart the stage.
If one evening in Manchester proves one thing, it’s that LCD Soundsystem are one of the greatest live bands in the world.