Interpol, Alexandra Palace, London

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The Independent Culture

Cavernous, bleak and barely accessible, Ally Pally is the perfect venue for New York's favourite Joy Division fans, a band on a quest to fill sizeable venues while revealing as little about themselves as possible.

After the reverential 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights, Interpol trod water two years later with Antics. The third album and major label debut Our Love to Admire reached No 2 in the charts and earned them a pair of shows here. It sees the band at their most accessible thanks to judicious use of swirling synthesisers and the odd orchestral flourish, though tonight the foursome make do with a keyboardist, who makes an immediate impact on opening number "Pioneer of the Falls". Its frosty grandeur and funereal pace are directly redolent of Joy Division, but with an icy sheen that is Interpol's own.

Guitarist Daniel Kessler sways, feeling every note in the clinical shards that attenuate the remorse of "Rest My Chemistry", a post-drug binge confessional. Style leader Carlos Dengler's bassline melodies are as sharp as his tailored threads, while drummer Sam Fogarino provides the sturdy foundation.

You can still pick out the influences, among them Echo & The Bunnymen's haughty grandeur or the more intimate Pixies' vulnerability, yet Interpol carve their own niche. As well as space, they can apply a sense of urgency, notably on their mid-song pauses, which enliven the likes of "Heinrich Maneuver".

This snipe at a former lover is one of their more straightforward songs, yet still needs to be enlivened. For there is a void at the centre of Interpol in the form of frontman Paul Banks. Classically introverted he may be, but the singer hardly moves from his mike and barely growls a word. And while his delivery is powerful, the limited range is unhelpful when you seek an emotional hook within the often bizarre lyrics.

A rare departure is "The Lighthouse", where with only guitar and keyboards to accompany him, Banks drops his voice to a tortured whisper. This happens two-thirds of the way through a set that then regresses to business as usual and peters out. A bland encore is only rescued by "PDA", where the band gather to extend its mid-song pause to 15 seconds. Where The Hives would add camp drama, Interpol could be waiting for a bus. They should listen to Ian Curtis: "Don't walk away in silence."

Interpol play Carlington Academy, Glasgow, tonight and Carling Academy, Newcastle, tomorrow ( www.interpolnyc.com)

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