“If it’s a funeral…let’s have the best funeral ever.” These are the immortal words that mark the curtain call on LCD Soundsystem in their epic swansong documentary Shut Up And Play The Hits.
On April 2nd 2011, LCD Soundsystem played their final show at Madison Square Garden after frontman James Murphy consciously decided to disband one of the most celebrated and influential bands of its generation at the peak of its popularity. The show in question was a four-hour-long spectacular, complete ticker tape, tears and special guest appearances from the likes of The Roots’ Reggie Watts and Arcade Fire.
Pulse Films (the talented folk Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace behind that ace Blur film No Distance Left To Run) filmed the entire thing and documented the final 24 hours of LCD Soundsystem in a documentary which has drawn a balanced reception between joyous ecstasy and tragic grief. Premieres have reportedly seen cinema-goers rapturously dancing in the aisles, wiping away tears of joy and pain and embracing strangers whilst dressed as pandas.
“There was something about James and LCD that really appealed as a story,” say the directors. “It seemed to be the antithesis of the cliché - here was a band full of people who still liked each other, whose relationships hadn’t disintegrated, who were still making great music, who hadn’t burnt out, but had made the decision to quit calmly and quietly.
“The question of ‘why?’ seemed like a great starting point for our story. It was a decision that seemed typical of James and his idiosyncratic approach to his work.”
Fittingly, the movie is also far from a cliché. Instead of your standard rock biopic doc or concert movie, SUAPTH cuts between both the final gig and the day after to ‘explore the reasons behind, and the ramifications of James’ decision to end LCD’.
Tie all that altogether with the fact that this was the film was distributed by the late, great Beastie Boy Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch’s Oscilloscope Laboratories and you’re left with a loaded legacy of a movie that will leave neither a dry eye nor a still foot in the house.
Losing LCD Soundsystem was like losing a limb. Across three albums, dance-punk pioneer Murphy stood tall as the ultimate anti-rock star, carving his own inimitable shape into the landscape of Twenty-First Century music with wit, imagination, integrity and a sheer love of music.
Without ever cracking the mainstream, LCD still meant so much to so many and Shut Up And Play The Hits depicts the Last Waltz that no one wanted to see. Dance Yourself Clean down at Broadway for what should surely be a fitting and masterful full-stop at the end of a remarkable career. “When Someone Great is gone…”
Shut Up And Play The Hits is showing at Broadway on Tuesday 4 September 2012.