Five years have passed since LCD Soundsystem said a “long goodbye” to fans with a sold out show at New York’s Madison Square Garden. But with five words from frontman James Murphy during Sunday night’s return show at New York’s Webster Hall, the group’s retirement was over: “Thanks everybody,” Murphy said when he first addressed the crowd. “Thanks a lot.”
The concerts — the second show is set for Monday — were only announced last week, four days before the first performance. But the casual nature of that revelation, and the resulting intimate performance at the 1,200-person venue — where fans had to win an actual lottery to acquire tickets — belied what will be a massive year for LCD Soundsystem: the group will tour this year, playing headlining sets at giant festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and the inaugural Panorama festival in New York. New music is coming too, though none was played on Sunday night.
Not that the absence of fresh material bothered the venue’s sold-out crowd. Instead fans threw their heads back and sang all the lyrics to “Get Innocuous!” which kicked off the night. From there, Murphy led the band — which included longtime singer-keyboardist Nancy Whang and drummer Pat Mahoney — through fan favorites like “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” “Tribulations,” “Freak Out,” and their 2002 single “Losing My Edge.”
The nearly two hour-long set was trance-like: Thrilling exuberance from the crowd and massive musical peaks were tempered by Murphy’s casual commentary and humility. This reunion show is a Big Deal. LCD Soundsystem returning is a Big Deal. But instead of waxing poetic about the band’s rebirth, Murphy made jokes and minimal banter. At most, he thanked fans. “You guys seem all right so thank you for doing whatever you had to do to be here,” he said. “It’s been really weird for us because we’ve been practicing against a wall.”
Though Murphy made note of issues with the keyboard and stopped midway through the set’s second song, “One Touch,” fans cared little about those imperfections. (“That’s why this is a warm-up show,” Whang joked.) Instead, the crowd, which also hosted celebrities like former LCD Soundsystem crowd surfer Aziz Ansari, danced beneath a disco ball and applauded Murphy’s cowbell.
They also relished the finale: Just before the encore, LCD Soundsystem launched into “Home” from 2010’s This Is Happening and “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” from 2007’s Sound of Silver; and after a brief break, Murphy came back out on stage and said, “What, like we wouldn’t play these songs?” The group proceeded to rip into “Dance Yrself Clean” before running into an emotional rendition of “All My Friends.” The band’s aching anthems of youth were back in live form, sounding stellar.
When Murphy sang the lyrics of the latter, “This won’t be the last time,” the whole crowd cheered and groups of friends dove into hugs. After, he and the band disappeared; there was no second encore to be heard. Instead, the lights came on and glow sticks littered the floor. Tear-stained cheeks of front row fans turned towards the exit, excited for a new era of LCD Soundsystem.
See fan-shot footage from the show and the setlist:
1. Get Innocuous
2. One Touch
3. Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
4. Us v Them
5. You Wanted a Hit
7. Freak Out
10. Someone Great
11. Losing My Edge
13. New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
14. Dance Yrself Clean
15. All My Friends