On April 2nd 2011, LCD Soundsystem played its final show at Madison Square Garden. Documenting this once in a life time performance and an intimate portrait of James Murphy as he navigates the lead-up to the show, the day after, and the personal and professional ramifications of his decision.
On April 2nd 2011, LCD Soundsystem played its final show at Madison Square Garden. LCD frontman James Murphy had made the conscious decision to disband one of the most celebrated and influential bands of its generation at the peak of its popularity, ensuring that the band would go out on top with the biggest and most ambitious concert of its career. The instantly sold out, near four-hour extravaganza did just that, moving the thousands in attendance to tears of joy and grief, with New York magazine calling the event "a marvel of pure craft" and TIME magazine lamenting "we may never dance again." Documenting this once in a life time performance and an intimate portrait of James Murphy as he navigates the lead-up to the show, the day after, and the personal and professional ramifications of his decision.Written by
"Hey", Steve Albini wrote, "breaking up is an idea that occurred to far too few groups". However, it's definitely an idea that occurred to LCD Soundsystem, as frontman James Murphy decided to disband the group, not long after their third album was released, despite the fact that they were now at the peak of their fame and acclaim. Nothing bad had happened – there were no bust-ups between members, drug troubles or any other music clichés – Murphy simply wanted to wave goodbye to his dance-punk creation and respect should be given to him for that. He chose to go out with a bang, by staging the group's largest gig to date on the 2nd April 2011, in New York's Madison Square Garden to a crowd of nearly 20,000. That gig is chronicled in this excellent Will Lovelace-and-David Southern-directed documentary. The live footage on display here is superb, with an Arcade Fire-featuring rendition of 'North American Scum' and the emotional climactic performance of 'New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down' proving to be highlights.
However, 'Shut Up and Play the Hits' isn't strictly a concert movie, as it also features some backstage footage, an interview recorded a week before the gig and clips of Murphy rambling around New York, often with his little bulldog in tow. This may sound boring when compared to the palpable energy of the concert footage, but these intercuts are anything but. They're revealing and engaging as we are given a glimpse of Murphy leading up to the final gig and the day after it. In particular, the interview is the most interesting with Murphy offering an overview of LCD Soundsystem and refreshingly frank responses to the questions he is asked.
This film isn't just for LCD Soundsystem aficionados; it's one for anyone who enjoys music documentaries. And if you are a fan of James Murphy, I struggle to imagine any reason why you wouldn't like this. Its offstage clips are poignant, while its beautifully shot concert footage is absorbing. If this truly is the end of the group, then this is a terrific way to say farewell.
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