LCD Soundsystem have ended the final show of their New York residency with an emotional tribute to the late Pogues singer Shane MacGowan.
As James Murphy’s dance-punk band climaxed the concert with the ballad “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” on December 10, they unexpectedly segued into a stripped back cover of the Pogues’ 1987 track “Fairytale of New York”. Keyboardist Nancy Whang played the melody on a piano, while vocal duties were taken up by drummer Pat Mahoney. The poignant moment was captured and posted to Instagram by fans.
MacGowan died from pneumonia aged 65 on November 30. He had been in ill health for some time, with wife Victoria Mary Clarke posting regular updates from hospital in the weeks before he passed. His funeral was held in the town of Nenagh, County Tipperary, on December 8, after a procession through Dublin that saw thousands take to the streets to pay their respects to the singer.
During the ceremony itself, fellow musicians including Imelda May, former Pogues’ bassist Cait O’Riordan and Irish folk singers John Francis Flynn and Declan O’Rourke performed songs written by MacGowan. Nick Cave’s raw and powerful version of the 1986 single “A Rainy Night in Soho” was met with huge applause, while a joyful rendition of “Fairytale of New York” sung by Glen Hansard and Lisa O’Neill and backed by members of the Pogues – playing together for the first time since 2014 – saw mourners leave their seats to dance in the church. Both performances have since gone viral on social media.
December 10’s show at the Knockdown Center in Queens was the final gig in LCD Soundsystem’s 2023 Tri-Boro Tour, which saw them play 12 shows across three venues and three boroughs in New York. The hometown concerts have gained the band rave reviews for their celebratory atmosphere, incorporating afterparties after the gigs, including multiple DJs and a pop-up wine bar courtesy of frontman James Murphy’s Brooklyn restaurant The Four Horseman.
DJ and producer Murphy and drummer Mahoney originally formed LCD Soundsystem in Brooklyn in 2002 after performing at a Christmas party together. The band immediately won widespread acclaim after debut single “Losing My Edge” – described in 2004 as “an eight-minute, laugh-out-loud funny dissection of cool over a dirty electronic beat” – became an underground dance hit. The following year, LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled debut LP received a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance album, and the single “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” gained a Grammy nod for Best Dance Recording.
The band broke up in 2011 – after a final gig in which they finished the show with “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” – but reformed in 2016 with the #1 album American Dream, later named “Album of the Year” by Mojo magazine.
Since MacGowan’s death, there has been a campaign by fans of the late singer to push “Fairytale of New York”, sung as a duet with the late Kirsty MacColl, to the UK Christmas #1 spot – an accolade it was denied on its original 1987 release by the Pet Shop Boys’ cover of “Always On My Mind”.