Live Music + Gig Reviews

Interpol @ KOKO, London

15 May 2007

“Buy tickets for Interpol…”. Without an “or sell” somewhere towards the start of that sentence, being a tout really doesn’t make much sodding sense. Without it you’re just a man standing in Camden trying to collect expensive pieces of paper.

Still, you can’t sell what you can’t buy, and ‘Interpol Defeat Touts’ makes for an appropriate, if slightly misleading, headline for the New York quartet’s London comeback show.

For those who, through fair means or eBay, had managed to get hold of a ticket the reward was a something which for all the expectation of it being a showcase for the new album, actually played out like a greatest hits set. A greatest hits set of fucking great songs, performed by a band brimming with confidence, but a greatest hits set nonetheless.

All a grand masterplan to increase anticipation for the new record to salivatory level? Quite possibly. Although it certainty didn’t help that the sound quality had the effect of burying Paul Bank’s voice somewhere at the bottom of a large pile of guitars and percussion, giving his vocals the timbre of having been phoned in from another area code entirely.

Despite that, the three unheard-by-most tracks rolled out certainly didn’t disappoint. Mammoth was predictably massive, Pioneer To The Falls throbbed with foreboding intent, and The Heinrich Maneuver sounded impressively like a band throwing everything they know about writing an Interpol song at a wall and finding a remarkably large proportion of it sticks.

For the rest of it, well, when Interpol hit stride, when the newly mustachioed Carlos Dengler (Ned Flanders times Colonel Sanders times Nosferatu) pouts and points his bass at the sky, when Daniel Kessler’s knees buckle and he starts picking out any one of those mathematical guitar lines from bygone albums, no-one can touch them.

Obstacle 1. Boom. NARC. Kapow. An atmospheric cloud of gloom envelopes us. Precision, dead-eyed, laser cut gigging from a band who don’t really do clumsy. Or at least, don’t often do clumsy. But actually, the to-me-to-you-ah-fuck first attempt to start Take You On A Cruise and the somewhat less then water tight Not Even Jail were actually quite endearing. Proof beyond all doubt they’re human, and not some sort of lab-grown super strain of genetically superior uber band.

Although, as the relentlessly looping riff of Length Of Love spooled out endlessly into the crowd and PDA crashed through the venue with such urgency you’d have thought someone told it Editors were at the bar chatting up its bird, it somehow seemed vaguely possible again.

In the end, after two years away, teasing glimpses of the future coupled to hearty slices of the past were probably the best way to play it. Interpol are back, and not taking any prisoners.

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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