"SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS" - LCD Soundsystem
This sumptious three disc set is the definitive funeral. The film itself - “Shut Up And Play The Hits” - is one of the most fitting rock films of recent memory. Whilst you can wonder, what is the point of a film about a band splitting up of its own violition being anything other than self-indulgent, this film is is about something bigger : about grief and loss and adjustment in the midst of everyday life. Punctuated by a trio of events – an erudite interview with James Murphy and Chuck Klosterman, live footage of the final show, and the 48 hours surrounding the show, it covers the gamut of emotions that come with any event of a similar nature. The joy, and ecstasy of dancing and release, as the crowd take their last communion and dance their legs down to the knees (every shot of the crowd is a crazy fug of bouncing hipsters), combined with a tearful distraught, finality at the close. The last time I saw a crowd so visibly exhausted and deflated was at the end of Morrissey's first solo tour in 1991 – with no indication he would ever play again, isolated pockets of heartbroken fans were sobbing inconsolably on the floor in a crumpled, exhausted heap. Cut to the quiet, and broken visit to the bands rented rehearsal space the day after. Murphy sits in a chair and stares at the equipment that, less than 24 hours before, was in front of 17,000 people at Maidson Square Garden ready to bring a Wrestling Arena to its knees.
And we have all been here. A key moment in our world has come to an end. Sometimes of our choosing. And sometimes not. The end of a job. Redundancy. Being dumped. Leaving, or being left. We carry on. Life doesn't stop. We still get hungry. Still need coffeee. Still need to walk the dog, pick up the messages, and consider the next move. Three hours after the love of my life abandoned the ship, I was eating a sandwich. Life doesn't forgive or forget but pounds on as relentless as our heartbeat. This film is about that moment : when you have to continue. When your to do list is “1., Wake Up 2. Survive 3. Carry On Again Tomorrow. “ This is what this film is about – transition, change, loss and the euphoria of one last glorious moment before the inevitable spiritual hangover of the morning after. It is a poignant film that captures the boredom of life, the inevitable midlife crisis, the questioning of reality – and whether we define life or let life define us – which is explored in the interview with Klosterman where he reveals the unshocking truth that there is only so much time, and so much left to do, and maybe he's just had enough for this kind of thing. Like a pop version of Danny Glover. “I'm getting too old for this shit.” It's a poignant ending as even though it is a moment of his own choosing, that it still carries a price, when the life he has lived for a decade has now come to an end – and where do you go from the end?
Disc 2 and 3 capture the full, final live show : it is absurd, brilliant, and, at 210 minutes long, stunning : every song LCD have ever played and many they haven't ever performed live, complete with an astronaut horn section, a reproduction space capsule and alien invasion, guest vocalists and musicians, dancing, singing and playing their arses off to a capacity crowd. Most of their discography is performed in a vibrant concert area that is both – B-Sides, A-Sides, covers and all – whilst Murphy leads the band as a kind of ringleader whilst around 40 people – a choir and horn section, alongside the 11 core members of live LCD and others combine to create / reproduce LCD's peculiarly individual assortment of dancable, rhythmic self-aware drama. But at the same time, the band play without it ever feeling like padding or dragging it out : because they didn't just shut up and play the hits, but they just wrote good songs, full stop. This enormous, six hour set contains not only their final, fucking fantastic show, but also a poighnant, touching documentary that is shorn of context and captures just the 48 hours around the funeral of one of the best groups of the past decade. Nostalgia is bunk : to see what we remember and recall becoming history is part of the human experience. What the future holds no one knows, but we can make it the future we want to see. This is certainly the most intruiging music film since “Some Kind Of Monster”, that, like all the best films, answers a question we maybe never even knew we needed to answer : how do we survive the changes of life whilst also staying alive? Live through this.