Interpol @ The State Theater 10/12/07
The Liars opened things up in a great way for me. They play music that is hard to define, but one thing is certain, Australian lead singer Angus Andrew likes it, feels it, and hopes that the audience feels the same, but at the same time, doesn’t really care because he’s having the time of his life anyway. The band tore through most of their new self-titled album to a roughly half-filled audience of die-hards, curiosity seekers, and non-fans alike. But they delivered an energetic set that found them gaining momentum, and the crowd gradually getting won over by their relentless rhythm assault and angular guitar sounds. I was very excited when I found out they were added to the bill, and they blew me away, especially on raucous album opener ‘Plaster Casts of Everything,’ and the sublime ‘Houseclouds.’ After dedicating ‘Pure Unevil’ as a love song written to Interpol, and closing with ‘Protection’ they were off, having won over whatever fence-sitters there were in the audience, and personally melting my face off.It could have been very easy for Interpol to phone in this performance, given the fact that lead singer Paul Banks and drummer Sam Fogarino had a late night impromptu performance at the Empty Bottle in Chicago (along with all of the Liars and singer Brandford Cox of Deerhunter) following their proper show at the Aragon Ballroom on Thursday. And, if the audience at the near capacity State Theatre would have been mellow and seated, I think a dud of a show could have been in the works. Thankfully, the spirited crowd and, in Paul Banks’ case, a few cans of Red Bull, helped energize the band and turn the show into quite a memorable one for all in attendance and, in my opinion, the band as well. Interpol breezed on stage, better dressed than anyone in the audience (Sam was wearing a scarf for crying out loud) and brazenly disregarding the no-smoking policy of our state, and played a wonderfully layered and beautiful sounding concert that in my mind was the best of the three times I have seen them in Minneapolis (the others were both at First Ave.) Starting with new album opener ‘Pioneer To The Falls’ was a great choice, easing the crowd into it, complete with the projected image of crashing waves on the backdrop just as the guitars start crashing in the atmospheric ending of the song. Going right into ‘Say Hello To The Angels’ kicked things into gear right away, with guitarist Daniel Kessler’s frantic guitar work getting the crowd moving and energized. And that energy would last all night. They went into two tracks from their second record “Antics” next, ‘NARC’ and ‘C’Mere’ and the band was locked in and focused, and the sound was a perfect mix of Paul and Daniel’s guitars and Sam and bassist Carlos D’s steady driving beat. ‘Pace Is The Trick’ was next, my favorite track off their new album, “Our Love To Admire.” The band were really on point with this one, with Paul’s ode to love, starlight and lions echoing through the theatre. The small screens that the band had on stage, reminiscent of the Arcade Fire’s screens, just square and not circle, added a nice chaotic visual element to the flawless music being presented onstage. Interpol certainly take their music seriously, not only in how they are all extremely talented musicians, but in how they present themselves on-stage and to the media-it’s easy for a musician to look good with a guitar, jeans and a t-shirt, but Interpol invest in their image and get dressed up for work, whether it is Daniel’s perfectly tailor suit, Carlos D’s long black Morning Jacket, or Sam’s aforementioned scarf, the band dress up for their nights on the town, and that professional look adds a classy dimension to their music. The band did surprise me by playing as many songs (six) from “Antics” as they did from the new album, but I felt the mix of new and old really showed me that even though Interpol definitely have a ‘sound,’ their songwriting has evolved, and their new material has a fervency and depth to it, especially live, that has also been added to the urgency of their older material. ‘Take You On A Cruise’ was another highlight for me, gradually building to the emotional epiphany of the ending. The ‘hits’ were also played, nearly consecutively, with only ‘Rest My Chemistry’ played in the middle of the ‘Slow Hands’ ‘Evil’ and new single ‘The Heinrich Maneuver’ combination. ‘Not Even Jail’ closed out the main set perfectly, with the emotional lyrics and Sam and Carlos driving timekeeping sending the song soaring, and the band off for more cigarettes. And as the crowd roared for an encore, only Daniel held off on the set break smoke, with the rest of the band puffing away confidently as they settled into the beautiful ‘NYC’ to kick off the encore. That song has an emotional depth and tenderness to it that is very rare in most rock songs, and their performance of this gem last night floored me, and caused me to think fondly of every time I’ve been to New York. ‘Obstacle 1’ was next up, picking up the pace a bit and again highlighting the wonderful guitar work of Daniel. The band then turned their backs on the audience, and led by Sam’s drums, riffed on an beautifully subdued extended jam for a few minutes that I felt was spontaneous and a small thank you by the band to the highly energetic crowd. And it was to be an all “Turn On The Bright Lights” encore, with PDA closing things out on a high note, with the chorus of ‘We’ve got 200 couches for you to sleep right’ perhaps a hint that at least a few members of the band were thinking of sleep after their long couple of days, but not before delivering a tremendous show for a thankful audience that kept the energy level on high all night.