James Murphy is an unlikely rock god. We've been here before, along with seemingly everyone else, but it's shocking every time. A chubby dude, wearing a white tee shirt and 100-watt smile, gets the kids moving. Granted, most San Franciscans spend their waking hours boogieing to the music only they can hear, but some of us don't. And yet, we're all bouncing up and down to LCD Soundsystem. A friend who categorically doesn't dance, is dancing. This is the Power of James: the venue changes, the results don't. Groundhog Day The Musical?
Murphy and the gang are, understandably, tiring of the shtick. After weeks of touring, the set list has gotten repetitive. They are tight, but not as tight as they were a fortnight ago in New York. They work the crowd into a fevered pitch during most songs -- although "Get Innocuous," "All I Want," and "Pow Pow" never take off -- but their energy lags between each effort. They catch their breath. We follow suit, eager to start again. For us, it's our one chance to witness Murphy; for LCD, it's another gig in another city.
Set closer "New York, I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down" remains a gorgeous, poignant duet between the lead singer and Nancy Whang, but just like the band tonight it's missing... home. Murphy wrote his best song about the misery of being on the road, away from his friends. Halfway through the show, he yells "where are your friends tonight," scans the crowd, and sees a seething mass of happy faces he doesn't recognize. It must be a bit disconcerting.
You can take LCD out of New York, but you can't take New York out of LCD. Or something along those lines. (Yes, they recorded most of This Is Happening in a Los Angeles mansion, but it's more Gotham than Batman.) But dancing, that resonates across the country.
This show, like every other one, becomes a night of simplicity.