LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy can’t sing, dance, wear shirts, or pound on drum pads. Fortunately he can program beats, most of which were thunderous enough at last night’s show to distract me from his terrible late nineties hair and the oversized Gap shirt. I did a lot of thinking at last night’s show: why do I cut determined non-singer and ordinary person Bernard Sumner slack? Two reasons: by the time of Technique, he’d actually learned to sing in pitch and was quite moving at that; and, secondly, after 1983 he eschewed the winks at the audience that reassured them he was a scab, an accidental front man. He acted like he was in charge, not a stand-in for a dead lead singer. Murphy possesses many of these qualities, but his songcraft mitigates them on record; live, he’s another paunchy enthusiast who got lucky. His band — they really are a band in every sense — is spectacular, though,
Unexpected, because This is Happening is LCD’s most assured record yet. Only one har-har joke number called “You Wanted a Hit” mars Murphy’s most relentless collection yet, played, alas, last night too. But the one-two opening punch of “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Drunk Girls” were highlights, and the simmering, jittery “Home” worked as the perfect envoi.
As for openers Sleigh Bells, they proved you can program backbeats, play power chords, and lip synch and not know what the hell you’re doing. Which should teach you something about amateurism.