Walking into Event II to the sound of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, the most famous piece of music from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, proved to be a fitting start to the night. The venue’s camp styling made me think of 1960s sci-fi television series with its bright colours and kitsch design. There was nothing 1960s about the music tonight, though, but Art Brut might be stuck in a time warp of their own. More on them later…
Waxed Apple opened proceedings with a mix of strings, percussion, live samples and soulful vocals to warm up the crowd perfectly. The high point came as they sampled Daft Punk’s “Rollin’ and Scratchin’” for use in one of their big bass rhythms with violin accompaniment. Indeed, as Alex Foster strummed his violin like a guitar you felt immersed in the depth of their sound. A powerful performance.
A moment of shouty vocals made them sound like what Ian Dury and the Blockheads would if they got down and dirty with the electro.
Looking like a bit of an oddball, geeky bunch, synth-rock group Hot Chip were a joy to behold as they burst into life. The sweet singing from oversized sunglasses wearing singer Alexis Taylor soared into the air as crazy high frequency noises and electronic beats pounded the dancefloor. A moment of shouty vocals made them sound like what Ian Dury and the Blockheads would if they got down and dirty with the electro. As vocal harmonies were interwoven with energetic beats they began to move to a more focused sound mid-set. They lost many of the random elements and seemed to mellow out. It was no bad thing though, as it was easy to get lost in their melodic soundscapes which owed a lot to The Beloved and The Pet Shop Boys. Ending with a new track that returned to the more unknowing direction of earlier reminding us that they have a hard edge to their music, best experienced live. Compared in the past to a hybrid of Prince, The Beach Boys and The Beta Band, these guys don’t take themselves too seriously, but you should definitely have a serious listen to their music.
Art Brut, on the other hand, deserve to be dismissed out of hand. Full of teen angst, they try to inject some cynicism into indie rock but seem to be old enough to know better. As lead singer Eddie Argos ranted on and threatened by a few glass missiles, it was difficult whether their self-referential style is a joke on us for listening to them or meant to be a joke aimed at every other indie rock band. Argos was perhaps aping the swagger of Pete Doherty as he shouted out the lyrics to “My Little Brother” and “Formed a Band”, clearly concerned with at least looking as though he did not care what we thought. Perhaps they weren’t expecting to last past the release of their first track if they are to continue and avoid being lost in a sea of their own irony they would do well to note the more interesting and original styles of both Waxed Apple and Hot Chip.
Murphy put in a powerhouse performance, screaming out the vocals like a man possessed.
LCD Soundsystem, the rock’n’roll dance band brainchild of James Murphy (DFA), have always sounded a bit flat on CD, but their live show injects verve and excitement to every song thanks to Murphy’s almost obsessive enthusiasm to entertain every single person. After a rendition of “Daft Punk is Playing At My House” that picked up and ran with the tempo by adding more urgency and energy to its recorded companion, “Tribulations” continued to set the stage alight as they rocked out. This was perfect stomping material.
Non-fans would benefit from seeing Murphy in action, leading the band and easily bridging the gap between stage and dancefloor with his improv during the songs and asides to the crowd. By the time they he had repeated “Yeah” for the hundredth time on the aptly named “Yeah” the beat was so infectious you did not want it to stop. Murphy put in a powerhouse performance, screaming out the vocals like a man possessed. With a tight and talented band behind him, LCD Soundsystem evolves from one man’s vision in a studio to a musical monster that it would be hard to put across in a recording. If they cannot do that, I am more than happy to see them live and in action as that is clearly Murphy’s natural habitat.