Primavera Sound day one review: LCD Soundsystem are whip-tight and tour fit

The three-day Barcelona festival also raises the bar with strong sets from Kamasi Washington and Floating Points

LCD Soundsystem lead singer James Murphy performing on stage during the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, Spain. Photograph: Marta Perez/EPA

LCD Soundsystem lead singer James Murphy performing on stage during the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona, Spain. Photograph: Marta Perez/EPA

 

Primavera proper got underway on the outskirts of Barcelona on Thursday, with a series of gigs that progressively raised the festival bar.

In the theatre setting of the indoor Rockdelux stage, Kamasi Washington led his seven-piece The Next Step band through a superlative set of funk-inflected jazz.

Ranging freely through tracks from his 2015 album The Epic, his pared-back tour band form a terrifically stylish and energetic outfit, whether punching through an immense Giant Feelings, flowing serenely through Askim or ending the set on a Prince-style vamp.

Meanwhile, out on the Ray-Ban stage, Ben Shepherd took his Floating Points project to the next level.

Now playing with a full band, he unlocked the terrific potential in his Eleania record and made it more rocky and substantial, without losing the jazzy house grooves that make his music such a pleasure.

It seems like no one else is making music quite like this at the moment. It’s a pure distillation of Shepherd’s influences, and his phenomenal musical knowledge.

Anyone drifting by the stage was sucked into this superb set by a musician who is playing ahead of the curve.

You could come to a festival and count yourself lucky to see two such strong sets in a weekend. Back to back, the effect is sublime.

Things really got down to business at the two huge stages at the far end of the festival site in the Parc del Forum.

On the H&M stage, Tame Impala worked through their blissed-out rock, sending ripples of music and light out over the Mediterranean.

LCD Soundsystem

Towards the end, pockets of people turned from that stage and start drifting towards the Heineken stage opposite, digging in for the LCD Soundsystem battle that was to come.

Reformations are usually more about cold hard cash and niggling nostalgia, but the LCD story feels like a cause célèbre.

The band have already performed once in Barcelona this week, in the 1,500-capacity Barts venue for punters with the higher-priced Pro ticket for this festival.

They delayed going on stage that night to make sure that more of the fans who were queuing in hope outside the venue were allowed in to fill any gaps.

There didn’t seem to be a single space anywhere in front of the Heineken stage on Thursday night.

A few songs in, you began to wonder why Murphy ever called time on the project, and appreciate that he had the sense to change his mind.

Opening with Us vs Them before ripping into Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, the band are whip-tight and tour fit, going about their business beneath a relatively straightforward light show, save for one giant mirrorball that sets the whole arena a-glitter.

The set plays out like an unimpeachable argument for getting the band back on the road.

There’s little between-song banter as Murphy keeps pounding the crowd with hits, from Tribulations and Movement to the brittle electro power of Losing My Edge, and the packed arena barely seems to stop bouncing throughout.

When he announces after about an hour and a quarter that there are just three tracks to go, it’s clear there’s only one way that this is going to go down.

The relative calm of New York I Love You gives the crowd a chance to catch its breath, before the slow burn explosion of Dance Yrself Clean burns up the energy in the audience.

And then there is just time for the tens of thousands of people who’ve travelled to Barcelona to hug their mates close en masse and scream themselves hoarse to All My Friends.