I've been an Interpol fan for just about as long as I can remember. I can't recall what came first, seeing the puppet led video for 'Evil', or my sister picking up the album case and calling the band Interpolantics (which I maintain will one day be the name of my Interpol cover band) due to the word placement on the cover art of their second album. Regardless of what first piqued my interest in the New York band, my intrigue and passion grew with each song I heard, and they quickly became one of my favourite indie bands, if not one of my favourite bands all together.
I longed to see them live, and managed to year later at Reading Festival 2011. I remember the band taking to the Main Stage in suits, but with frontman Paul Banks donning a black 3 stripe Adidas tracksuit top over his formal wear. I knew then that, to me at least, they really were the epitome of cool. They came, they performed, they left, all in suitable style, but without any unnecessary thrills. Again I caught them at a festival, this time not too long ago, at Glastonbury 2014, as the sun was setting on The Other Stage. Once again, they took to the stage, put in their shift, and departed. I loved every second of it, but they certainly spared the theatrics.
So by the time they were touring in support of their fifth album, the excellent El Pintor (which ranked as my third favourite record last year), I eagerly bought tickets, hoping to see if, and how, they differ in an enclosed, more intimate setting. The Roundhouse was that very venue, and it’s played host to many great concerts for me over the years.
The band walked out to rapturous applause, suits as standard, and set paces racing with ‘Say Hello To The Angels’ before climbing into newer tracks like ‘Anywhere’ & ‘My Blue Supreme’, all of which sounded at home amongst the older tracks. ‘Evil’ possibly had the biggest sing along, the rarely played ‘Pioneer To The Falls’ had an outing, and my favourite track ‘Rest My Chemistry’ found its way into the setlist, much to my own delight. There was somewhat of a mid-concert lull however, throughout ‘Everything Is Wrong’, the epilepsy inducing ‘Lights’ (which was the sole inclusion from the band’s fourth album), and ‘Breaker 1’. This wasn’t caused by a drop in quality, because they sounded flawless throughout, but the ease of the band’s craft was particularly noticeable during these smaller tracks.
They finished strong however, launching into Antics classics ‘Narc’, ‘Not Even Jail’ and the anthemic ‘Slow Hands’, before leaving the stage for the first time. The crowd begged for them to return, and of course they did. ‘All The Rage Back Home’ greeted their return, and reaffirmed my belief of just how good that song is, before the band hit Turn On The Bright Lights staples ‘NYC’, ‘PDA’ and, not before departing and returning once more, ‘Untitled’. The closer summed up the evening: beautiful throughout, but the melancholic overtones leave you walking away with a knot in your stomach, but that’s a good thing, I ensure you.
Frontman Paul Banks has publically admitted that he doesn't necessarily enjoy touring as much these days, stating that he would “love to put out three records a year if I didn't have to tour”, and I think that shows through in their performance. In between tracks in Camden, Banks and guitarist Daniel Kessler were really beaming, their thanks and smiles seemed genuine, seemingly enjoying their time up on stage and lapping up the applause. However, during the tracks, they are stoic, and make it very clear that they are up there to do a job. While it's a job that they're great at, they play the songs to the best of the ability, but don’t go much further than that. Kessler dances a fair bit, but even his confident shuffling isn’t enough to inspire movement in the entire audience. Drummer Sam Fogarino simply keeps pace throughout, and somehow also makes playing even the fastest songs look natural, suave, and at times, effortless.
I can’t say that I had anything less than a great time on the night, but Interpol have perhaps become too at ease in their stage performance. They are undoubtedly a well-oiled machine, but sometimes you want to see some blood, sweat, and tears as opposed to sheer efficiency. Would I go and see Interpol again? Without a moment’s hesitation, but my mind can only wonder what it would have been like to see them onstage whilst they were still cutting their teeth in dive bars in New York in the early 2000s.