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LCD Soundsystem Play Surprise NYC Show


With apologies to Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard, there aren’t many artists who can force a room full of jaded New Yorkers to dance with sloppy abandon while looking like he’s ready to fix their sinks afterwards.

Focusing on James Murphy’s disarming everyman schlubbiness may be no more respectful than dwelling on, say, Hayley Williams’ kittenishness, but it’s essential to LCD Soundsystem’s snowballing appeal. Because Murphy may look like us (or, as the case may be, our uncle), it’s all the more alarming when we realize, just minutes into watching him perform, that he is as unique as they come.

Monday night at Webster Hall, during the second surprise-ish hometown tune-up show of the week, Murphy announced right away that he wasn’t as drunk as he was at Thursday night’s set at Music Hall of Williamsburg, but that didn’t make the festivities any less festive.

Opening with “Pow Pow,” an eight-minute tune that most people in the room hadn’t heard before, may have been a riskier gambit than Thursday’s “All My Friends,” but it didn’t feel that way: The song’s relentless groove and immediate hook puts it pretty much in line with the rest of LCD’s fare. Like much of the amazing album This Is Happening, due next month, it’s everything that already works about this band, only more so.

And they are a band. While Murphy is the congenial ringleader and undisputed major domo, what sets LCD Soundsystem live apart from other dance-rock acts, and even from LCD records, is the chemistry. Watch four percussionists, including Murphy clanking on a cowbell, and feel compelled to stand still with your hands in your pockets: That is a dare. From someone who doesn’t particularly care for moving.

As for new numbers, the smooth “I Can Change” and soon-to-be song-of-the-summer “Drunk Girls” made appearances, but the set was particularly heavy on older tunes, including relative rarity “Yr. City’s a Sucker” and the laser-accompanied (!) “Yeah.”

But it was, as always, the pulsing “All My Friends” that completely killed. There just isn’t a better song about the indignities of turning a certain age, except for maybe that other one Murphy wrote.

And fitting finale “New York, I Love You” reclaimed its place as the anti-“Empire State of Mind” — a sprinkling of sober reservations render the mash note that more poignant. Specializing in music that usually revolves around zeroes and ones, LCD Soundsystem revel in their humanity, paunch and all.