Archie Bronson Outfit (and a little bit of LCD Soundsystem) – Paradiso 04/05/2010


And there you had it, a great band, seemingly at the beginning of something new.

The queues outside the Paradiso were for LCD Soundsystem, not Archie Bronson Outfit, that much was clear. Rumour has it that this tour is the end of the road for LCD Soundsystem, and a packed Paradiso was here to pay homage. As Archie weren’t on till after the LCD had finished, a queue three parts LCD latecomers one part bearded Archie B fans is held at the door. Finally the doorman relented; we could all watch the encore…

LCD Soundsystem weren’t on my reviewing beat, but as I caught the last 15 minutes or so I suppose I can quickly make a number of observations here. Namely that I still really don’t get what all the fuss is about. For sure, they have a set of extremely cool references: the guitar runs and licks were Michael Karoli’s to a tee (Tago Mago-era Karoli too), and the ghosts of Eno/Byrne’s collaboration pranced round tracks like PowPowPow (the resemblances at times to I Zimbra or America Is Waiting were something shocking). No, for all James Murphy’s ebullient presence, for all the sweaty enjoyment shown by younger audience, or the nodding sympathy shown by the more refined types, the songs just didn’t go anywhere special. Very thin gruel from rich ingredients, I am afraid to report.

After a while of this listening to this live rehash of three of my all-time favourite records (for the record Tago Mago, Before & After Science, Fear of Music), I repaired to the bar to await the Archie Bronson Outfit. And it turned out to be quite a wait, a good twenty five minutes or so before a surprising beginning in the shape of a bearded, cap n’cape-wearing type (looking for all the world like Jonas Reinhardt) cranked up an organ and began to play a mini introductory set that could best be described as a work-out in the style of Harmonia.

 

Actually it was very pleasing, unexpected as it was, and gave a little clue as to the direction of the Archie’s current live sound.  Soon the rest of the band came on, wearing similar (African?) gowns, singer Sam looking like a ceremonial pixie. No matter we weren’t here for sartorial musings. Archie Bronson trade in loud, psychedelic workouts - whether rich and textured like those on splendid new LP Coconut, or the more visceral tracks on Fur and Derdang Derdang.

Immediately noticeable was the quiet purpose of the band. With barely a nod, we were treated to most of the big songs off Coconut: Sharks Tooth, Hoola, Magnetic Warrior… the rich, layered sound and more reflective, groovy vibe well to the fore. Now, I’m guessing, but Archie Bronson still have doubts over how these new songs should be best presented: they feel untested, not pushed to their limits. That’s not to say they were disappointing renditions, far from it, the new tracks hinted at glories yet to come, rather it felt that there was still a tentative standoff between the musicians and the music. You get the feeling that Sam has yet to thrash these tunes into the shape he wants them, maybe it’s that the tracks showcase a maudlin side not really noticed before, who knows? Undoubted highlights of the gig were the tracks from Derdang Derdang; Cherry Lips started a general stirring in the crowd, and Dart for My Sweetheart had all the trendy-executive LCD types dancing to some real dance music for a change. Dart for My Sweetheart was a veritable behemoth; the sound stomping round the upstairs room like an angry bear. A long encore held one surprise, namely a marvellous version of Gospel Singer - an ugly duckling on Coconut grown into a swan played live.

And there you had it, a great band, seemingly at the beginning of something new.  Top stuff.