To praise or bury Interpol, that is the question. After their disappointing self-titled album, it’s safe to say anticipation levels for this gig were not high. Nevertheless, I’d been told Interpol are a bit like White Lies, so it seemed like a far better option than braving snow and ice to get home! The Olympia is an old-ish venue that has seen better days, and we weren’t helped by having tickets for the upper circle, miles away from the action.
American band Surfer Blood were the support act, and they made a pompous, swaggering entrance. They weren’t helped by the really muddy sound, and an annoying percussionist / keyboard player, all hair and flying drumsticks. Their formula isn’t too bad but their songs are weak, and their tiresome rock star attitude doesn’t help. One song in particular reminded me of 70s dinosaurs Bachman Turner Overdrive of You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet fame. Hard to warm towards them.
Interpol came on at 9.30pm sharp. The newer songs sounded better than on the album, though they remained pretty repetitive. ‘C’mere’ ignited the crowd, while a shaken up ‘PDA’ got a rapturous reception, spotlighting Paul Banks’ mannered vocals. The older songs went down well, ‘The New’ (or the old) showcased Daniel Kessler’s Edge/Marr-like guitar arpeggios, and the last 2 minutes of the song overcame the inappropriate clapping. Luckily paean to hesitation, ‘Lights’, killed the momentum stone dead, despite the efforts of the two girls dancing in front of me.
Had great hopes of David Pajo’s bass playing but it was lost in the muddy mix. The night improved with some of the older tracks like ‘Untitled’, which is a most pleasing piece of music, ‘Narc’, and later ‘Mammoth’, which got people dancing, and the anthemic ‘NYC’, drenched in that relic from the 80s, dry ice. However there was little stagecraft or improvisation from the band, they mostly replicated the albums, ‘Evil’ had the identical vocal intonation. It was more like robo-Interpol.
The drab newer tracks made it feel like a long night, and had me wondering what the band did all day in snowbound Dublin? They had me thinking that maybe they were the Suede of the noughties, launching themselves with a studied pose but not really able to evolve, and eventually boxing themselves into a corner. Are they over? Well, a lot of people liked them last night… A lot of people are wrong.