One of the best things to come out of New York, Interpol’s dark and brooding mystique is infectious.

Date: November 24, 2010

Venue: Rock City

Interpol’s eponymously-titled new record has come under a bit of flak from critics. Crawling where it should soar seems to be the general consensus; languid where it should be galloping.

And while on first listen it appears the hacks might be right, repeated listens reveal hidden depths and it becomes a record you simply can’t put down.

But then, hasn’t that always been the case with Interpol? Never ones to make easy-to-swallow chart fodder, their somnolent, often doleful post-punk and alt.rock is never going to carve out an omnipresent pop song.

But it’s these dark qualities, and their creepy, brooding mystique that appeals so much to people. It’s precisely the reason why the New Yorkers easily sell out auditoriums up and down the country, and Rock City is no exception; it’s wall-to-wall rammed in here tonight.

As they appear through a fug of thick mist, adding another layer of darkness to their already crepuscular ambience, walking ahead of a strangely insignificant backdrop of organ pipes, it’s clear that, while they remain a moody lot, a chink of happiness at being back in the game does at least pierce their defiant melancholy.

They cherry pick songs from their four albums, igniting mass hysteria with Slow Hands, Evil and NYC, the latter damaging cochleas by virtue of its discordant wall of noise; Paul Banks’ low and austere voice lending an added chill to its sobriety.

And while it’s true that some of the new songs don’t quite spark into life, you’d need to be paralysed not to feel affected by their potent grip.

Indeed, new track Lights, with its repeated refrain of “That’s why I hold you…” does just that. It holds you like Vader’s death grip, while others transfix your glare stagewards without you even realising you’re doing it. They’re hypnotic, ethereal and strangely affecting.

Of these new tracks, it’s recent single Barricade – with its tense guitar tussles and trembling basslines – which is greeted with the most love.

Elsewhere, Daniel Kessler, a man who took the notion of making his guitar gently weep quite literally, coats the crowd in a layer of eerie guitar quivers. It’s a skill, and a damn fine one.

Glaring emissions include Obstacle 1 and Obstacle 2 from their critically-acclaimed debut album, but at least PDA, perhaps their finest song with jabbing guitar rhythms and deep, throbbing bass, concludes the gig wonderfully.

Abstract, tense and atmospheric, forget the negative reviews, Interpol are still a depressingly dark yet irresistible pleasure.


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