Thursday, March 08, 2007

live in birmingham

I saw LCD Soundsystem and Prinzhorn Dance School, who recently signed to DFA, at Birmingham's Carling Academy last night; impressed with both but overwhelmed by neither; Prinzhorn played much the same set they played at last year's Great Escape festival, although they mystifyingly elected not to play their strongest, set-closing song, which blew me away when I first heard it. It's all the odder because without it the stripped down PDS aesthetic, all sudden snare and symbal crashes, awkward bass and snippets of repetitive guitar, sounds curiously limiting; occasionally moments open up where you suddenly hope for surprising diversions, but that doesn't fit with what they're trying to do, so although it's a consistent and coherent set, it feels like the rigidity of the template is suppressing the quality of the idea - one song, (sorry, I don't know any titles) which references monsters, contains the most beautifully slanted (and enchanted) guitar solo, pointed and abrupt. Another cries for a lead break that lets rip, but Prinzhorn are too controlled for that - a pity. Anyway, plenty of menacing stage presence, some hilarious lyrics, and a few marvellous songs bode well for the future.

LCD Soundystem, by contrast, seemed anything but lean for the first two - dreadful - songs of their set, but it was the first night of their first tour for a few years, and they seemed to swiftly take control and moderate their pace, eradicating the rustiness which characterised the start of their set, although the guitars frequently drowned out the bass. James Murphy is a pleasingly chubby frontman, unleashing sardonic rants and enthusiastic falsettos by turn, frequently breaking off to thwack the inevitable cowbell. Their songs lurch between Fall-like punk ('Daft Punk is Playing at My House' was one of the victims of early-set nerves, alas, but 'Movement' was one of the best songs of the night) and extensive dance workouts, where the band clearly lack the finesse and camaraderie of the (much better live) !!!, and yet still climb to impressive heights on a number of occasions. One new song is swept along by a synopated bass-line and gorgeous New Order keyboards, and 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' is ten or twelve minutes of bliss, recalling the delirious, hedonistic rush of the Happy Mondays. By the next song, however, they're below parr and this is the story of the set - they're clearly out of practise, and need to sequence the songs better. There's no excuse for not playing 'Losing My Edge', either. Try and catch them at one of the later dates on the tour, perhaps.

All told, a great evening - and the first time I've been on the guest-list for a gig in about ten years. Having a plus-one but no-one to go with, I plucked a sullen-looking teenage emo-girl from the queue and escorted her in, and then darted away when I realised this generous gesture looked alarmingly to the rest of the queue like the action of a sexual predator. Bah.

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