Interpol, The Forum, London

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

So many people love Interpol that you suspect you should love them too. And for moments during the 90 minutes they paced the Forum stage, they gave their audience a glimpse of the breathtaking majesty of which they are capable. For the other 70 minutes, though, listening to these talented boys from NYC was like being thrust into a pressure cooker. It was intense; it was hot; but it was not always enjoyable.

So many people love Interpol that you suspect you should love them too. And for moments during the 90 minutes they paced the Forum stage, they gave their audience a glimpse of the breathtaking majesty of which they are capable. For the other 70 minutes, though, listening to these talented boys from NYC was like being thrust into a pressure cooker. It was intense; it was hot; but it was not always enjoyable.

They played a set that embraced their 2002 debut, Turn on the Bright Lights, and their recent release, Antics. There was enough in there to please most Interpol aficionados, but as the lights came up, there were voluble complaints that some of their best material - specifically, "Take You on a Cruise" - had been left in the locker. Still, it is a band's prerogative to play a set that hangs together, rather than a greatest-hits package.

The opening track, "Next Exit", with its swell of organ and keyboard, provided a euphoric beginning and promised much. In retrospect, it was one of the highlights of the evening: Interpol's talent for producing a full sound can sweep an audience away. A misty-eyed yet urgent swaying in the crowd was brought on by "Narc"; its sweeping chorus had the emotional impact of Bends-era Radiohead.

Such moments, though, were frequently crowded out by disappointingly fragmented writing. The band have talked openly about their organic, multi-writer approach to composition, but too many guitarists risked spoiling the broth. Tracks such as "Evil" have an anthemic feel in parts, but sudden changes of rhythm unbalance the cumulative effect. Not that you would have known it from the audience's unbridled enthusiasm for the oddly catchy central lyric, "Why don't we just look the other way?"

Interpol can play. The tautness with which they deliver technically demanding lines borders at times on the virtuoso. That is especially true of the bass-playing, which was rigorous and frenetic but always rhythm-sensitive. At times, though, Interpol's talent seemed to obscure their vision, with intrusive playing interrupting a vocal line or the momentum of a song. Likewise, it is hard to forget the drawl of their lead vocalist, Paul Banks, but he is sometimes found out in the higher registers.

In a way, those are reservations not of quality but of taste, and it would have been hard to find an Interpol fan in the Forum who did not go home happy. The band are as much a style package as anything, and in that sense, they hit the money. Their bassist, Carlos D, strutted in crisp white shirt, tie and shoulder holster, flaunting his Gestapo chic, and the whole band were backlit in such a way that shadows stood, Gotham-esque, against the Forum walls. For those moved by the intensity of the post-punk revival, Interpol were a particular joy to watch.

Tour continues 15 to 19 Dec ( www.interpolny.com)

Comments