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- Rock City, Nottingham »
While not quite enjoying the same level of mainstream success or zeitgeist changing legacy as The Strokes, it would be fair to say that Interpol have maintained a devoted legion of fans throughout the past decade, despite having released arguably their best record as far back as 2002. Indeed there's some who'd claim they've made a living off the back of Turn On The Bright Lights. Once again, as with its predecessors, despite the levels of anticipated expectation, this year's self-titled fourth long player flattered to deceive for the most part, and yet the majority of their current European tour was still sold out long before the dates came around.
It's a similar scenario here in Nottingham's Rock City, a venue they last graced in December 2004. Of course times have changed since then, not least within the line-up of the band themselves. Gone is the elegant demeanour of bass player and occasional focal point Carlos Dengler. In his place, the more accomplished talents of Dave Pajo, formerly of Slint and Tortoise among others, along with keyboard player Brandon Curtis, currently on loan from former tour buddies The Secret Machines.
Openers Surfer Blood face the unenviable task of playing to a largely disinterested crowd only here to see one band this evening, and their nervous performance does them little favours. By the time they realise full potential on set closer 'Swim', most of the assembled throng have left the stage area for the confines of the bar, something which happens at various intervals throughout the rest of the night.
For Interpol, the quandary they find themselves in is just as unenviable as their support act but for differing reasons. While this tour may be a promotional exercise for the much maligned Interpol, it's clear from the dozens of screams for requests from their earlier records what the majority of the audience wish to hear, a point not lost on the band themselves it seems judging by the fact only five of their more recent compositions make it onto tonight's setlist. What's more, when they do air the likes of 'Summer Well' and 'Barricades', the stream of people heading to the bar or for a customary toilet break tells its own story as much as the frenzied attempts at creating half a dozen mini-moshpits during 'Leif Erikson' and 'Say Hello To The Angels'.
Sound problems don't help either, as Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler's guitars seem lost in a halo of fuggy reverb during the more subtle likes of 'Narc' that only heightens the tension between band and soundman early doors. When the mix is finally corrected, 'NYC' and 'Not Even Jail' sound impeccable, the former anaesthetising to the latter's pounding forcefulness. While over two thirds of the set is lifted from the aforementioned Turn On The Bright Lights and Antics, it must be said that the only song they play off 2007's Our Love To Admire, 'Rest My Chemistry', oozes an elegant grace its recorded counterpart severely lacks. What's more, Pajo gets the opportunity to show off his sophisticated talents from hereon in, and while not as aesthetically pleasing on the eye as former bassman Dengler, his musical virtuosity lies streets ahead.
Since the band's return to the live circuit three months ago, it's been interesting to note that no two setlists have been the same at any point, while many old favourites have been revisited for the first time in years. During the encore, this trend continues as both 'Untitled' and 'The New' receive rare excursions, both warmly embraced by a more than gratuitous crowd before 'PDA' brings the curtain down on the evening.
Over all, while it's always a pleasure to witness Interpol in the flesh, not least because of the fun to be had playing the setlist guessing game of "What's coming next...?", the fact their newer material almost pales into insignificance when placed shoulder to shoulder with the songs that brought them to people's attention many years ago must leave a cause for concern, not least in determining the next steps of their foreseeable future.
Uncertain times ahead then, but at least they can rest assured safe in the knowledge that when the inevitable ATP - Don't Look Back request comes calling, there'll be a willing army of participant devotees only too ready to basque in Turn On The Bright Lights timeless affluence.
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