The theatre I built 130 years ago was intended as a place of drink, laughter and sophisticated entertainment. Tonight, 2,000 scruffy young people pour into the art-deco auditorium to stand and watch a performance nearly unrecognisable to me. I’ve read a lot about LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip going out on the road together and the fact that LCD’s James Murphy has said, many times, that the current album will be their last, I thought this was one the final chances I’d have to go and see them. Hot Chip were a bonus. So I crept out into the cold November night and made my way across London to the dear old Coronet. The place hasn’t really changed since it’s completion as an art-deco dancehall and cinema, but the projector had gone in favour of spotlights and strobes.
The evening proved to be a lesson in not presuming the bigger band would be headlining. I walked into the venue to the tune of Dance Y’rself Clean, the opener from LCD’s latest album, thinking “Why is the DJ’s playing a song by a band performing tonight. Lame.” when I saw that LCD Soundsystem had taken the stage and were half way through their first track. It was only 8.20 but the early start wasn’t stopping the crowd from frantically pointing towards the ceiling and shifting their bodies to the scuzz-beats. It was hot, it was loud. It was amazing. LCD Soundsystem have the knack of making you feel like you’re in the middle of a NYC loft apartment house party no matter how big the dance floor. Over the course of the next 50 minutes they stormed through a mix of old and new moving seamlessly from You Wanted A Hit into Tribulations which sent a flare of ecstatic motion through the whole venue. Ending on an epicly blissed-out version of Yeah, LCD proved once again that if you can’t break out a move or two in their presence, you are, like me, probably dead.
Anticipation was high as Hot Chip wondered unassumingly onto the huge stage. I overheard a guy say
“Do you think they’re gonna be able to pull this off?!”
His friend: “I dunno, man, I don’t think so after last night!”
By all accounts, the Alexandra Palace gig the night before (which saw the two bands switch slots) was a bad one, marred by long queues and poor sound, it was clear Hot Chip were thinking about it. Feeling their way in with And I Was A Boy From School, the band limbered up, hitting their stride by the time they kicked out One Life Stand, hotly followed by standard crowd pleaser Over And Over. But just as the crowd was in full throttle party mode, Hot Chip nose dived the atmosphere with Hand Me Down Your Love. The choice to follow up with Alley Cats, the most down beat track from their latest album, nearly killed their set. The crowd was still motionless half way through Shake A Fist, probably their most popular live track. By the time the band re-emerged for their inevitable encore, the glowsticks were back and a double hit of No Fit State and Ready For The Floor ensured the art-deco hall shook to it’s elderly foundations like it used to. I may be dead, but I can still tell the kids know how to have a good time, just like in the old music hall days. Nothing changes.