Following on from 2010’s sublime No Distance Left to Run – an in-depth look at the formation, split and eventual euphoric reunion of Blur – directorial duo Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern return to theme of the band break-up with Shut Up and Play the Hits (2012), detailing the final day and performance in the history of James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem. Part interview, part concert movie, the duo’s latest is ultimately a joyous, touching and at times moving tribute to one of the 21st century’s most influential bands.
Whereas No Distance Left to Run told a story made up of the usual rock ‘n’ roll documentary stalwarts; drugs, alcohol and shattered relationships, Shut Up and Play the Hits is an altogether more uplifting story, denoting a band simply content to quit while they’re ahead, with all relationships and friendships intact. Shifting back and forth between footage of the band’s final performance at Madison Square Garden and interview clips with Murphy in both the hours leading up to the gig, as well as the morning after, Shut Up and Play the Hits finds the band’s leader in reflective mood, contemplating a life outside of the studio/tour merry-go-round.
The heart of the film essentially exists within the incredible footage of the band’s epic, near-four-hour long final gig, which offers a greater insight into the inter-band relationships and Murphy’s emotional state than anything revealed to the audience via the interview footage. This is testament to the superb camera work from Lovelace and Southern, along with a little help from a certain Spike Jonze, who, seemingly with cameras placed at every conceivable position within the venue, manage to capture the rollercoaster of emotions endured by all on the night, including many of the audience members, some of which are caught openly weeping at the show’s climax.
Whilst Shut Up and Play the Hits may lack some of the bite and tempestuousness of its predecessor, Lovelace and Southern have provided fans with a truly definitive celebration of the band’s work in the form of the Madison Square Garden performance. Those hoping for any further elaboration or explanation behind Murphy’s decision to end the band may be slightly disheartened by the lack of revelation offered from the interview that meanders throughout the film, but it’s almost impossible to be disappointed when presented with a live performance this special from a band that are just so spectacularly brilliant. An absolute must for all fans of LCD Soundsystem.