Live Review: Interpol

O2 Academy, Leeds, 22nd March

As the stiflingly hot air punches [i]NME[/i] in the face like an angry, invisible hair dryer, the other couple of thousand people in the venue have their eyes glued to the stage as if a momentous world event is about to happen. It’s not, obviously, but try telling that to Interpol’s whispering fans, who are as loyal and as strangely protective as ever. 

The gloomy, low-level stage is the focus. The band arrive, looking slick as usual, and dive into a suddenly lit [b]‘Success’[/b], the relaxed guitars enveloping Paul Banks’ sturdy voice like a delayed memo. “[i]I’m a good guy[/i]”, he sings, “[i]somebody make me say no[/i]”. We don’t want to be a killjoy, so we ignore such pleas and our eyes instead wander over to the swish suit and shined shoes of Daniel Kessler. His fancy footwork bleeds comfort and control from under his strategically chosen outfit.

Multiple blue spotlights appear for the heavier mood-setting chugs of [b]‘Say Hello To The Angels’[/b]. Recent single [b]‘Barricade’[/b] shows Banks’ recognisable howls off to satisfying effect. It has to be noted (despite, dynamically speaking, being fairly unnotable tonight) that after 13 years as a band, the poster boy of four-string, heartthrob gloom, bassist Carlos Dengler, will be forever absent. He helped pen but will never play their eponymous latest album as a live production. Does a key member leaving spell a lingering end for [a]Interpol[/a]? With determined crowds like this one, it seems wholly impossible. Their metropolis-rocker sophistication is undented on newer songs [b]‘Summer Well’[/b] and [b]‘Lights’[/b], and the more familiar [b]‘Specialist’[/b], which is greeted with an eruption from the diehard fans, causes a crowd-surfer to gradually make his way over the not-actually-moshing-but-listening-intently crowd.

Closing the encore with 2004’s [b]‘Not Even Jail’[/b], the bassline Dengler perfected and now played by Brad Truax, weaves together paranoia and gratitude into a graceful, if not exactly climactic, final push. [a]Interpol[/a] are restructured but they’re not rebranded: that’s probably the last thing these New York old-schoolers will ever try to achieve. They’re far from floundering, but the feeling is that, regardless of line-up changes, [a]Interpol[/a]’s goth-kissed indie will never be quite as anthemic as they think it is.

[i]Kelly Murray[/i]