Madison Square Garden

Blur @ Madison Square Garden - 10/23/15

Blur @ Madison Square Garden - 10/23/15

The 90s was the decade of grunge in the US, but in the UK, it was the decade of Britpop. Along with the likes of compatriots (and often rivals) such Oasis, Suede, and Pulp, Blur helped to define and popularize the genre. The band – consisting of Damon Albarn on vocals, Graham Coxon on guitar, Alex James on Bass, and Dave Rowntree on drums – recorded a total of seven albums over the course of their original run before splitting in 2003. Coxon left to pursue a solo career. Albarn moved on to find success with his “virtual band” with artist Jamie Hewlett, Gorillaz. James took up cheesemaking, and Rowntree became a solicitor. Fans all but gave up on the idea that the band would play together again.

Until, that is, the end of 2008, when the band announced that they were reuniting for a pair of concerts at Hyde Park in London. From there, the band went on to make a number of festival appearances throughout Europe, and even played Coachella in 2013. All the while, though, the band put down all rumors of a new album, releasing only a few new songs as singles. That changed early this year, though, with the release of the single “Go Out” in February along with the announcement of the band’s eighth album, The Magic Whip, to follow in March. Soon after, the band finally announced the US shows that North American fans had been waiting for, though with only two dates, at the Hollywood Bowl in LA and Madison Square Garden in New York City, the two biggest concerts the band had ever played in the US. Last week, after months of anticipation, those shows finally arrived.


For fans of LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy’s announcement in February of 2011 that LCD Soundsystem was calling it quits was like a bomb going off, an eight megaton buzzkill at a party that was just getting started. Later, the final shows were announced, and the faithful, or otherwise spectacle addicted, made their way by hook or by crook to THE final performance of the band at Madison Square Garden on April 2nd of that same year.

The film Shut Up And Play The Hits was meant to document that last night and its aftermath, giving a brief glimpse into the goings on onstage that evening, and in that capacity it succeeds wildly. Hits gives fans a candid peek into not just how LCD Soundsystem, as a band, interacted, but just how deeply their efforts touched the group’s fans. The footage that directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern captured that final night rebounds gleefully back and forth between the audience perspective, and that of a stage full of musicians undoing themselves. It’s a kinetic tour de force that manages to satisfy almost as much as the real thing and the filmmakers should be applauded for their efforts  Much like concert films heavyweights The Last Waltz, Tourfilm, or Rust Never Sleeps, it captures the essence of a band at the peak of its powers, and does so with an elegance that can only come from a true intimacy with the artist in question’s work.

Unfortunately Shut Up And Play The Hits is a documentary, not a concert film.

How To Say Goodbye - LCD Soundsystem's Final Show

 James Murphy...about to say goodybe to it all.

When I say I love this band I mean I love this BAND. Sure, James Murphy might be the driving creative force, but without this wonderful group of friends that he has assembled to perform his music, we wouldn’t be talking about any of this right now.

Taking the late 70’s/early 80’s New York art/rock/punk scene and throwing it into a blender with the dance/electronic sounds of a more modern New York wasn’t anything new. Acerbic wit with a “fuck you” attitude wasn’t anything new either. In fact, nothing that LCD Soundsystem did was technically new except for one thing:

How goddamn well they did it.