It’s clear on entering Place Bell in Laval tonight that LCD Soundsystem are in that awkward middle ground of popularity; way more people are here than could possibly fit into the 2,500-capacity Metropolis, but nowhere enough people to warrant opening any of the upper seating levels of the 10,000-capacity Place Bell. Indeed, there are lots of empty seats in the open sections too, by the time LCD Soundsystem take to the stage just after 9:30pm, but the Floor section is packed, so the venue choice is certainly justified.
Anyway, the show! It’s LCD Soundsytem’s first headline slot here since a stellar show at Metropolis in 2010 on their farewell tour, which ultimately turned out to be fairly short-lived; they were reformed again shortly thereafter, in 2015. This year saw the release of their acclaimed Grammy-nominated 4th album American Dream, to universal praise, and probably explains why they’ve gone up in venue size since their last visit, despite being on hiatus for most of that time!
It’s new song Yr City’s A Sucker that kicks things off in moody manner, as the stage lights up a smoky dim red and a giant glitter ball above the stage beams it’s lasers into the cavernous room to spectacular effect. The more familiar intro of I Can Change soon begins to reverberate, stirring the floor section into life, which continues the party into new song Call The Police, which culminates in a spectacular strobe blitz as James Murphy bellows “SO CALL THE POLICE!!!” Get Innocuous follows that, ending in a similar strobe blitz and James bashing away on percussion, and the party is truly in full swing.
As much as I loved the farewell show at Metropolis back in 2010, I was truly disappointed that my 2 favourite songs were missed off that set, especially since, at the time, it seemed I would NEVER get to hear them live (seeing as it was a “Farewell tour” and all). Well, tonight, James & Co. put that right for me, as the first of those, You Wanted A Hit, is up next. Clocking in at around 9 minutes on the amazing 2010 This Is Happening record, it’s slow to build, starting with twinkly electronic effects before a thumping beat comes in and steps all over it. If it sounds good on record, it sounds mind-blowing live, absolutely incredible. The floor is heaving by the time James proclaims “WE WON’T BE YOUR BABIES ANYMORE!” in the third chorus, and the energy continues as the song runs seamlessly into the equally epic Tribulations; at this point, nobody would want to be anywhere else in the world than here. Euphoria is all-pervading.
After the briefest of pauses, the 2 drummers on stage begin hitting beats that accelerate more and more, before levelling out at a pretty frenetic pace as distorted synths join the party on Movement, and culminates a guitar riff being shredded whilst distorted a la Peter Frampton; its quite the sensory assault. The song eventually falls apart in a wail of feedback, before beats build back up again in the form of Someone Great, detonating the pogo-ing contingent of the Floor (which is basically the whole floor section at this point).
The crowd is afforded the opportunity to catch its breath during a slow-burning Change Yr Mind, before the energy levels shoot back up with a remixed version of new song Tonite, which sounds infinitely better than its recorded counterpart, with beats almost industrial in nature. That song concludes in another fireworks display of strobes across the stage, before blending seamlessly into the glorious Home, with its simple chorus howled back by the crowd. Again, it sounds monumental, and another timely reminder that we should all revisit that This Is Happening record again pretty soon; amazing stuff.
James retires to the keys at the back of stage to hand over vocal duties to keys player Nancy Whang (who’s already put quite a shift in tonight already, on both keys and vocals!) on a cover of Chic’s I Want Your Love, before the main set wraps up with New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. Never one of my favourites, but again, it sounds exponentially better live tonight, slowed down at first, but then culminating in a cataclysmic finale of strobes, lightning different parts of the stage with each pummelling drum beat.
Despite James’ assurances that this break is nothing but a pee break, and they will be back for more songs, people start leaving the venue, only to be spotted by James upon his return to the stage: “don’t go you guys, it’s a bad idea!” He’s not wrong either; after opening the encore with mellow American Dream opener Oh Baby, the unmistakable intro of Dance Yrself Clean rumbles into life, and the second of those glaring omissions from the 2010 Metropolis show is unleashed. For the next 9 minutes, I’m sure I’m the happiest person in the room, as the fantastic electro beats that pound along for 4 minutes suddenly explode in a blaze of red and blue lights as the crowd heaves and bounces. It’s everything I hoped it would be ever since I first fell in love with this song all those years ago, and then some; it’s the reason we insist on seeing the bands we love live, and aren’t content to just stay home and plug in the headphones. Magnificent. Life-affirming. I can’t quite find the right adjective, but if you’ve ever been there, you know exactly what I mean.
The show wraps up emphatically after almost 2 hours with the frantic keys of All My Friends, and the crowd filters out just before 11:30pm. Driving home, you can’t help but feel supremely grateful for living where we do. Over at l’Astral, it sounds like Wolf Alice put on a stunning show this evening. Up here in Laval, LCD Soundsystem did exactly the same; a contender, nay, a front runner, for gig of the year, without a shadow of a doubt.
Yr City’s A Sucker
I Can Change
Call The Police
You Wanted A Hit
Change Yr Mind
I Want Your Love (Chic cover)
New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
Dance Yrself Clean
All My Friends
Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Kieron Yates