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Live At The Olympia Theatre, Dublin
“ROSE-mair-ee!” yells a sold-out Olympia along with Paul Banks, as the Morse-code bassline of ‘Evil” jitters away beneath. “HEAV-en re-STORES you in LIFE!” So, yes, onstage it looks like Interpol: five smart-suited gentlemen throwing rock shapes in a graveyard-mist fug that is ‘lit’ (if you can say that about a near-dark stage) in their trademark two colours, black and dark red. But turn around to face tonight’s all-singing, all-dancing crowd, and you could be at an Oasis concert circa Definitely Maybe.
Kim Porcelli, 21 Apr 2005
“ROSE-mair-ee!” yells a sold-out Olympia along with Paul Banks, as the Morse-code bassline of ‘Evil” jitters away beneath. “HEAV-en re-STORES you in LIFE!” So, yes, onstage it looks like Interpol: five smart-suited gentlemen throwing rock shapes in a graveyard-mist fug that is ‘lit’ (if you can say that about a near-dark stage) in their trademark two colours, black and dark red. But turn around to face tonight’s all-singing, all-dancing crowd, and you could be at an Oasis concert circa Definitely Maybe. Except that the punters here – a black sea of modishly brunette-dyed hair (the girls) and obscure band T-shirts (the boys) – look approximately a million times cooler.
It’s mind-boggling that an album as dark and claustrophobic and monochromatic and wrenchingly personal as Turn On The Bright Lights got the attention of the kind of people who like to bellow along at gigs. And it’s downright weird to consider that the lyrics to the cerebral, defiantly non-frivolous anti-anthems of Antics, TOTBL’s follow-up, are now known off by heart by a fanbase recently increased to pop-phenomenon dimensions. But it’s nonetheless happened. True, post-Franz Ferdinand and The Killers, anything with an ‘80s fixation and a danceable beat will get you on The OC and into the hearts of the masses, but when we hear Paul Banks’ dour bass rumble boom through the hi-energy disco-party bouncy castle that is ‘Slow Hands’ (Interpol’s ‘Take Me Out’ and one of tonight’s crowd-mental-making highlights) with the unashamedly sentimental couplet “I am married to your charm and grace/I just feel crazy like the good old days”, it reminds you how sweet and overemotional and ‘uncool’ these songs are – and their popular success pleasantly surprises you all over again.
In any case, they’ve made the transition from cult beloveds to people’s choice with ease. And they’re still just such fun to watch: there’s bassist Carlos D, bending and snapping like a downed power line, all black-swathed height and cubist hair; there’s Paul Banks, rock’s most marvellously unfrontmanlike frontman and possessor of its most unlikely baritone, the small, still, calm point in a band otherwise loaded with hugely physical performers. With a grey jumper over his shirt and tie, his dark-blond hair grown out a bit, he’s less rock god, more schoolchild who has come blinkingly downstairs during his parents’ dinner party.
That odd, intense duality we saw at Interpol’s first Irish headliner in the Village, of attitude-free vulnerability and burning collective self-belief, of showmanship coupled with an almost military abhorrence of overindulgence, is here again tonight, and it serves them well as they super-size songs from both albums for the Olympia and The Kids at large. ‘Take You On A Cruise’ is as lonely as lighthouses, Paul’s and guitarist Daniel Kessler’s two searing e-bows like twin searchlights over an inky sea; ‘NARC’, with its hung-over disco bassline and keening Television guitars, is a harrowing multi-part study of longing and isolation; and ‘Say Hello To The Angels’ is a shambling, hysterical tangle of violent razor-wire guitars and locomotive drums. The shuffling, shining ‘NYC’, meanwhile, is just gorgeous, Daniel carefully coaxing its blurry thrum to its euphoric apex until you’d swear the Olympia itself was vibrating in sympathy. Sonically, emotionally, Interpol have always been this big. Until now, it’s just the venues that were small.