mon 15/07/2024

Hot Chip/ LCD Soundsystem, Alexandra Palace | reviews, news & interviews

Hot Chip/ LCD Soundsystem, Alexandra Palace

Hot Chip/ LCD Soundsystem, Alexandra Palace

After three albums the party finally ends for James Murphy's vehicle

Specs appeal: Is this James Murphy's last tour as LCD Soundsystem?Ruvan Wijesooriya

Unlikely cool. It’s what unites LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip. They’re the geeks and outsiders who made it to being hip on the dancefloor. These improbable, subversive electro-pop heroes have united this autumn for what for fans has been a dream double-headline tour. Both bands have had albums out this year and both albums have been well received. But for James Murphy the rumours are that this may be the last tour he does as LCD Soundsystem.

And last night he sure was playing as if saying a long goodbye to the ones he’d loved.

A joy of both bands is that although they essentially work out of an electro palette, they bring in so much more – pop, punk, indie and a sharp sense of humour – that they can even seduce rockers like myself. Dance music can be so po-faced, and cool is normally so elitist. Last night, however, was anything but. It’s tricky being either when you arrive on stage in a pair of pyjama tops and “Buggles” glasses like Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor. And it’s hard not to feel a sense of fondness for the band and their cast-of-Weird-Science image. Hard too not to feel a little sorry that the hall was half empty as they launched into “And There Was a Boy From School”. Maybe people had difficulty getting there because of the student riots across town? 

Hot_ChipHot Chip's (pictured right) sound was impressive from the front where I was standing, but it was difficult to tell how well it carried. The main hall is a truly vast area to fill, and with the makeshift construction of the stage and the burger vans in the adjacent quad, the whole event was set up with a festival atmosphere. During “One Pure Thought”, with its rather beautiful, slightly ambiguous lyrics, the room filled with punters brandishing plastic glasses. Blissed-out dancing soon broke out spontaneously. “Thieves in the Night” was as pretty and as Eighties-tinged as ever, and in the unlikely ode to monogamy, “One Life Stand”, guitarist Al Doyle confirmed that he, rather than Joe Goddard, really is the number-two stage presence. He couldn’t stop grinning and changing instrument: from guitar to steel drum to flugelhorn.

Of course the massive hit “Over and Over”, with its magical description of repetition being like “a monkey with a miniature cymbal”, led to an explosion of joyousness and movement in the room. Energy levels were then brought down a peg for “Alley Cats” and “Take it In”, but resumed from the incongruously druggie “Shake a Fist”, through to the closer “Ready for the Floor”. And it was simply a thoroughly enjoyable set.

Murphy’s dad-dancing had progressed to what looked like a homage to Iggy PopHowever, when James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem came on it was immediately apparent that Hot Chip were co-headliners in name only. Because the lighting, the sound and the enormous glitter ball, they all told you this was LCD’s gig. It might be tempting to say that Hot Chip are just the English version of the micro-genre of “intelligent dance-rock”: more eccentric and more subtle. That, however, wouldn’t do justice to the uniqueness of James Murphy and his singular take on the world. Lyrically he moves effortlessly from sarcastic to tender to bitter, and physically he moves like the slightly paunchy 40-year-old he is.

“Dance Yrself”, with its lovely building dynamic, was delivered with all the vocal pain of a great deal of living. “Drunk Girls”, with its tandem bass guitars, was as riotous as it should be (and a lot cleverer than I suspect many people think). “I Can Change” demonstrated Murphy’s Julian Casablancas-style falsetto, and “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” was itself very punk. Alongside the diminutive figure of Nancy Whang on keyboards, Murphy’s dad-dancing had progressed to what looked like a homage to Iggy Pop. In fact it seemed that, of all his influences, rock was winning out on the night. And things were building to such a crescendo that it was a real shame that “All My Friends”, which by rights should have been the highlight, was marred by disappointing sound. It was as if everything had been turned up one notch too far and turned to mud. But it improved considerably for the wry “You Wanted a Hit”, and thereafter. “Movement”, which sounds like The Fall on record, sounded like the Ramones last night, and during “Yeah (Crass version)” the glitter ball was redeployed for five minutes of house music.

I think Murphy wanted to go on all night. I certainly don’t think he actually meant to end with the song “Home”. But he’d run out of time. All the balloons in the ceiling were released, and that was that. It’s not certain, of course, that Murphy will stop touring, or even stop putting out albums as LCD Soundsystem. But it does stand to reason that despite the protestations of every glam-rock band to come out of California, the party has to stop at some time.

Watch video for LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends":

Lyrically he moves effortlessly from sarcastic to tender to bitter, and physically he moves like the slightly paunchy 40-year-old he is

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The gig was amazing but it's such a shame that the shambolic event organising marred the evening - there was over 1000 people in the queue to get into the gig half an hour after Hot Chip started, and then once finally in all I seemed to do was to queue, for coupons to get drinks or for the drinks themselves (it took me an hour and a half at 2 different bars to finally get served). I would recommend seeing LCD and Hot Chip anytime, but never, ever to go to a gig at the Ally Pally!

Nice review. Maybe the half empty hall for HC had to do with the mile-long queue outside... it took me over 20 mins to get in and by that time, I'd missed half of HC. Otherwise a great night despite the organisers best attempts to ruin it. WTF was the token thing? Queue to buy tokens for drinks only to find that the queue for the bar is longer than the queue to get in. The guys serving Mojitos (for cash, sensibly), saved me from a dry night.

Looking forward to seeing them at the Coronet tonight!

but never, ever to go to a gig at the Ally Pally! never a truer word spoken absoultely horrendously organised... LCD are undoubtedley one of the great LIVE bands of our time, having seen them a few times I was reet looking forard to las nite. come the end of it, it felt like an ordeal, not an amazing experience. it was oversold, facilities (drinks, loos, sound) were woeful. punished again for buying tix early when I should of waited, Coronet will be much tighter. a proper concert space. gutted

Agree with all of the previous posts about the event (dis)organisation and venue - truly dreadful, it made it really hard to get into the groove. We were four of the many who missed the first half of Hot Chip. We left before the very end, if only to get out ahead of the crowds (never done that before) - but by the time James Murphy announced that the curfew meant they had time for only one more song, the magic was evaporating. Sorry to say I was left regretting not selling the Ally Pally tickets & buying the Coronet while I had the chance. Oh yeah, and they really shouldn't have messed around with Someone Great to they extent that they did - that wavering synth line was kinda sick, and not in a good way.

good review, was great to see two of my favourite ever bands under one roof, unfortunately whilst it hardly needs repeating what a terrible terrible terrible roof that was. both bands played great sets, i thought LCD were a lot tighter than they were at the first night at brixton earlier this year, and maybe it was the semi-support status or just that it was being recorded but Hot Chip's set felt a lot punchier last night such a shame though that despite all that i left feeling cheated, cheated of seeing LCD a band I've followed for most of this decade play, possibly for the last time, in a decent venue. i know when you get to that level you're completely insulated, in a bubble and have whole teams of people looking after this stuff, but bands should be more aware that certain venue choices just show contempt for your fans. Also LCD's set did seem to finish unexpectedly early, was about 2 more songs i was expecting to hear, ah well I'm going to swing by the coronet tonight and see how much the touts are selling tickets for.

Good review. LCD Soundsytem were fantastic and outshone Hot Chip on this occasion. James Murphy was fantastic. Venue not great. Agree with earlier posts about queues for tokens to buy drinks, then the most enormous queues to exchange tokens for drinks. Not to mention queues to get in (it was reminiscent of a queue I've been in at Legoland and Disney, long elaborate 'S' shaped thing, with a steward at the end telling you to hurry up!) We came home with unspent tokens and only bought one drink each. Nice little earner for the venue.

Great gig. I thought Hot CHip were massively brilliant, better and punchier than at their Brixton Academy gig earlier this year. LCD were very strong too - You Wanted Hit had me in heaven. Agree with previous poster though - they've done something odd with Someone Great (which is my personal fave) which was a bit disappointing as it stripped it of that incredibly smooth velvety echoey quality that I so love this track for but otherwise, just perfection. Absolute shocker of a venue though! I will honestly NEVER go to Ally Pally again even if Jesus Christ himself was staging a resurrection gig with John Lennon. Total omnishambles from start to finish. Ridiculous queue to get in (and I was one of these sensible ones who turned up early) cost me some of the Hot Chip gig, ridiculous queue for drink tokens, then to the bar, then to the toilets. Huge venue with lots of space and yet only one bar and two toilets? A telling detail – in the middle of LCD gig I decided to nip out to get the drinks in a hope that the bar would be emptier – no chance – it was still totally rammed! Acoustics were dreadful, crowd management woeful, the venue itself just does not suit gigs – little annoying thing – there are multiple entry points (all of them open) on the side of the main stage auditorium which means that people who come in have no choice but to cut through the crowd which means that literally wherever you stand you are being constantly disturbed by people cutting across. It was driving me nuts during Hot Chip – it was like being on a crowded Tube so for LCD I ended up retreating right to the back and sacrificed the view and sound to be able to focus on the music a bit better. I think that the venue being total letdown had another side-effect - I had a feeling of everyone being narky and annoyed rather than fully enjoying themselves. I saw two different incidents of people having mini-bust ups by the bar as people were desperate to get drinks. Who heard of that at a gig like this which is usually full of the slightly geeky lovable and peaceful people? I for one will be writing to Ally Pally management about how rubbish it was and print your comments page for additional support.

from what I saw of them, LCD Soundsystem were simply amazing. the queuing, however, was diabolic! definitely the most ridiculous and horrible music event experience i've ever had. everyone should get a full refund and a free ticket to another Live Nation event of their choice, obviously not at Ally Pally. those responsible for this major cock up of what should've been a fantastic event should be named, shamed, fired and never be allowed to work in this industry again! it was such a great shame especially because the crowd looked like genuinely good people who love good music and don't deserve to be treated like a bunch of idiot sheep and robbed of their hard earned cash. i'm not a violent person in the slightest, but last night i really wanted to punch someone in the face. how dare they make me feel this angry on a evening like this. my fellow punters, i feel your pain. let us vocalise our feelings and bring those responsible to justice!!!!!!

I went to the Coronet one. Same shambolic venue issues. I can't believe they haven't been shut down. I can't believe they have a license to cram that many people in. It was dangerous. Great gig though.

Live Nation are clueless! They did no justice to LCD Soundsystem, I cant really comment on Hotchip as I spent so long queuing that missed most of thier act!!! A lot of money being made out of treating us all as mugs. It felt like being in a war camp collecting rationing coupons after having queued up for far to long in the cold. Then having to que again to get drinks. How they got a license for this poor set up at Ally Pally is anyone's guess. Thankfully the true artists onstage played a stunning gig. Never again will I go to anything to do with Live Nation. Shame on you!!!

I went for Hot Chip, but it was LCD Soundsystem who blew me away. Murphy's singing on the studio albums can sound at times overly affected but live his style was spot on. "Tribulations" was my pick of the set. Hot Chip started strong but the sound quality on a couple of the tracks - "Hold On" and "Over And Over" - was a bit muddy; possibly the band's timing was off, or too much reverb in the room, making it harder than it should have been to pick out the melodies. "One Life Stand" was my fav. And as for the venue - a disgrace. I was there early enough not to have to queue, but getting a drink between sets was a nightmare - there were at least 1,000 folks in the bar queue (or crush) and only one working beer tap. Using tokens could have been a good idea but the bottleneck at the bar isn't folk getting out their credit cards to buy a lemonade, it's the fact that it took an age for the drinks to be served. I was still queuing when LCD started up (with "Dance Yrself Clean", my fav track, natch) so I just had to spend all my tokens at once on shorts, neck 'em and get to the set before the track finished!

I've seen LCD and Hot Chip before and have followed them since their first albums were released. So I was really looking forward to this. It was the first gig I've been to at Ally Pally and I won't be going back. For a start, I'd love to give some feedback on how good Hot Chip were but we never saw them. Too busy queuing to get in, get tokens, get food and get beer. As we finally walked into the main hall we heard "thank you, good night" from Hot Chip.That was it! Despite Mr Murphy being amazing I wasn't that interested by the time he got going. Someone else here mentioned that they picked up a dodgy atmosphere amongst the crowd. I did too. I could sense that people were hacked off as soon as I got in. I have never been to such a badly organised gig. It felt like the whole thing was just a massive money-making exercise and the venue organisers didn't care about the punters. A CD of the night's performances anyone? That'll be £20 please ... Ironically, the three of us only spent £12 as we only managed to get served once. We got £18 worth of tokens refunded. On one attempt to get a drink, my friend queued for 35 mins (between 9.25 and 10.00) only to get to the front of the queue and be told that the rear bar was shutting! Same with me. I queued for one of the blokes selling beer from back pack kegs only to get to the front of the queue to be told he'd run out and wouldn't come back. No wonder people were p!ssed off. The event management was an utter disgrace. Some questions for those in charge: Why was the queue to get in allowed to grow so big it wrapped around the entire length of three sides of the building? And yet when it started moving people got into the venue pretty quickly. Why were the queues for the bars so long (entrance hall and rear bar in main room) when there was a token system in place that should have sped things up considerably? Why did the guys selling pints from beer keg back backs turn up late when there was obviously a problem at the main bar and why did they finish at 10:15pm? Why wasn't there any queuing system at the bars? Funny enough, there was for the tokens. That ruined the night for us. We left at 10:30 in case we'd have to queue again. I hope both band's management know about what went on and get explanations from Live Nation AND Alexandra Palace about it because we, the fans, have been absolutely shafted. Let's not forget they were charging £28.50 a ticket for that. I'd urge anyone reading this, with similar experiences, to vent their spleen here as at least it'll be on record.

Pound for pound this was one of the greatest queues that have ever been to! I particular like the idea of having a bar queue and a separate queue to buy tokens for the bar queue! Genius! Whoever came up with the idea of two toilets for 10 000 people is obviously reaching the pinnacle of their career. It was an unnecessary gesture that left me overwhelmed with gratitude. At one stage in the evening i couldn't find a queue long enough to enjoy, then joy! the mini-bar-uber queue! Great!! Thank you Live Nation Concoctions for a truly memorable night. One gripe I have - if I search my soul, is the programme! I bought a programme expecting to see some of the highlights of the different queueing situations on the night. I have to say i was a little disappointed to find there wasn't ONE queue mentioned?! The entire publication seemed to be dedicated to two musical acts who apparently performed at the same event. If like me you feel a little let down by this, remember that we have been promised the "Hot Queue - Long Constant Demoralising" DVD of the night will be out on Shit Productions soon. Thanks again LIVE NATION!! Enjoy.

I also missed half of Hot Chip while enjoying some outstanding queuing in the freezing cold outside. And I will not be going to another gig at Ally Pally. Even if the organisation had been perfect (and it was dreadful) I think this is just too big a venue for me. A couple of nights ago I saw New Young Pony Club at the 100 Club - ticket price about 1/3 of those for Hot Chip / LCD. The gig absolutely blew this one out of the water.

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