Live Music + Gig Reviews

Interpol @ Electric Ballroom, London

25 June 2014


In 2011, following the tour to support their self-titled fourth album, it did feel a bit like an end for Interpol. There was all the normal talk of “hiatuses”, but with bassist Carlos Dengler gone and solo-projects taking precedence it seemed like what was being described as a “long break” may actually turn out to be something a little more permanent. Perhaps because of that, tonight has the distinct air of a reunion show. In a good way. Not in the in-it-for-the-taxman way, but in a rediscovering of purpose, a recharging of batteries, absence making the heart grow fonder kind of way.

So here in the Electric Ballroom, the older songs are welcomed with unbridled joy. The opening Say Hello To The Angels, Evil and C’Mere are dispatched with hypnotic precision and are met with enormous enthusiasm. Interpol really do do chilled poise like few others. Hands Away holds itself with the icy serenity of a barely defrosted catwalk model. Not Even Jail struts along with enviable pomp, while even Lights, rescued from that, somewhat unloved, last release to form part of a three song encore, is sleek and stylish.

This new incarnation, with core members Paul Banks, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino here joined by Brandon Curtis on keys and Brad Truax on bass, are as dynamic as they’ve ever been. Additionally, the three tracks we get from new album El Pintor (due in September) reinforce the impression of a band re-energised.

My Desire finds Banks at his most emotive and plaintive, crooning against Kessler’s serpentine riff and a driving rhythm. Anywhere is antsy, doomed and has a wonderfully melodramatic swoop of a chorus while All The Rage bursts from a pared down opening, with simple crystalline washes of guitar accompanying a lonely vocal, before bursting forth with a rampaging, trampling momentum.

They all sound, perhaps unsurprisingly, like Interpol songs. But the thing is, Interpol sounding like Interpol remains a magnificent thing. Some bands warrant changes of directions, need to push on through stylistic changes, but all we really want from Interpol is to keep being Interpol. It suits them.

There’s little in the way of chat between songs, what we get is workmanlike, almost to the point of being perfunctory, but again, they’ve never been ones to charm their way into a crowds heart with idle banalities. They are far more comfortable with winning you over through sheer quality of song alone.

As PDA seeps into Slow Hands the place erupts. Banks smiles, looking slightly taken aback by the response. He shouldn’t be. Interpol are back and on this evidence, it seems that for them a hiatus is at least as good as a change.

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More on Interpol
Interpol – The Other Side Of Make-Believe
Interpol – Marauder
Interpol – El Pintor
Interpol @ Electric Ballroom, London
Spotlight: Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights