Documentary, by Mike Richardson, 27 September 2012

Director: Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern

Stars: James Murphy, Chuck Klosterman and Gunnar Bjerk

Country: USA

Runtime: 108 min

Release Date:

Language: English

Settle yourself down for a great concert movie framed around a (sadly less engrossing interview). Shut Up and Play the Hits looks at LCD Sound System, the electro-punk-funk dance/post-punk pioneers LCD, an utterly wonderful peculiarity: they are a band that aren’t really a band. They come to life in the studio, where frontman James Murphy does almost everything himself, but now that’s over and there’s just the grand send off to perform.

Shut Up and Play the Hits

Shut Up and Play the Hits

LCD was formed by Murphy (already in his late thirties) but despite success, it didn’t last and like all great oddities the band agreeably self-destructed after only six years, burning out before they had the chance to fade away, when Murphy decided it was the right time (after nine years and three highly acclaimed albums) to call it a day. The band decided to end it all in style on the 2 April 2011, with an epic four-hour spectacular, at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden It is refreshing in the world of Pop where nobody quit; instead they reform, repackage, reissue, remix and keep on, keeping on, not LCD.

The film Shut Up and Play the Hits is a cool music doco that charts that final implosion. It is by far, at its best when in the astonishing concert movie, featuring substantial portions of Murphy and co.’s final (death of glory, made it Ma top of the world type of thing) concert at Madison Square Garden. Intercut with the performance to end all LCD performances, we are treated to a very fabricated and slightly irritating interview (with James Murphy), mixed up with footage of a post-gig Murphy slouching around his too-cool apartment, like a millionaire teenager, wandering around in his pants and petting the dog.

There is also a lot of comedy mileage in the appearances of Keith Wood, LCD Sound System’s foul-mouthed British manager, which calls to mind some of the best parts of This Is Spinal Tap. Overall Shut Up and Play the Hits is an intermittently touching, but somewhat (and often) precocious, portrait of Murphy the muso as a middle-aged man. This is actually the problem with the film as Murphy isn’t sufficiently dude to thrill the audience and his fallings from grace (for what it is) isn’t wow enough. This sidelining of the rest of the band means we get no insight into their relationship or shared history.

Filmmakers Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace’s documentary of that momentous concert is, at the end of the day a bittersweet experience, all gorgeously shot concert footage, shots of crowd members lost in music (one boy spends the whole night in tears), mixed up with the desperate abandon of the show, but leaves the emotion “ow” to Murphy’s post gig comedown. It seems that Murphy considers it a wake, rather than just the end of a chapter. Shut Up and Play the Hits is overall a film that really shows the potentially devastating power of music, on fans and on the perpetrators of it.

Shut Up and Play the Hits Trailer

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