Would you die for this band? It's a simple enough question.
Since NME’s first encounter with Interpol they’ve transformed themselves utterly. Once there was a beguiling series of intense vignettes powered by waterfalls of chiming guitars and frontman Paul Banks’ emotive affected vocals. You had to love the suits and the haircuts – but it was the music that reverberated with an untarnished glory. Sure some tutting critics muttered something about Joy Division – but as of now, that’s redundant. Because where once these four New Yorkers teetered on the brink of eternal cultdum – a band adored by a coterie of knowing, smoking fans – tonight sees the transformation to stars complete.
They hit the stage of the Astoria headlining a mere two months after playing third on the bill at the NME Awards Tour. And ‘Untitled’ is as delicate as ever, chiming guitar floating like gossamer in the breeze, Paul’s unique croon gently shattering hearts: “Oh, I will surprise you sometime. I’ll come around when you’re down…” He ends it crouched at the front of the stage. Vulnerable. And from there on it’s a walkover.
The band have picked over the gaudy cliches of rock, cherry-picking and subverting the parts that suit (ha!) them. Where before the glacier cool of the songs dictated everything that grew from it, Interpol have blossomed into a full on rock machine. Bassist Carlos has always been the most active performer, but now his head-shaking on a muscular ‘Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down’ sees him wielding his fringe as weapon. Guitarist Daniel Kessler’s knowing sidelong poses have been augmented with sudden dramatic drops to his knees and – careful now – a solitary rock jump during the charged sexy grind of current single ‘Say Hello To the Angels’.
Even Paul’s enigmatic icy demeanour has thawed. A little. Stiffly but stylishly cloaked in midnight threads brings focus on Paul’s Burberry scarf tied fashionable. His statuesque delivery is even more strangely moving.
And smoking? Jesus, the government may have banned cigarette advertising, but Interpol are on a mission to make sure that sales remain constant. There’s a point when even drummer Sam Fogarino manages a fag, and fuck knows how do you do that when both your hands are in use.
But would you die for this band? Because after a final blazing ‘Obstacle 2’ they’re a band that demand that amount of conviction. Like classic bands from The Stone Roses, through the Pixies and back to the Velvet Underground, Interpol inspire the heart, feet and intellect in equal measure. They don’t just do something as tawdry as just play songs: they create a whole world. And it’s a world you’d do well to become part of.