Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Interpol at The Kool Haus in Toronto
Frank YangEvery relationship waxes and wanes over time, and mine with Interpol is no different. Like many/most, I fell for the blend of post-punk and atmospheric rock on their debut Turn On The Bright Lights, an infatuation cemented by a stellar show at the Horseshoe way back in September 2002. The bloom started coming off the rose not long after, though, with a lacklustre show at the Kool Haus a year later where they were clearly exhausted from touring the world and should probably have just gone home and gotten a good night’s sleep rather than book one more North American leg.
When their second album Antics arrived in 2004, surrounded by a sea of sonic imitators, my attention was already wandering and by the time their major label debut Our Love To Admire came out in 2007, I was detached enough to be able to regard it objectively and heard a band struggling with how to grow artistically without losing their distinctive sound and ending up compromising on both fronts. Their V Fest 2007 appearance, however, was still pretty solid and reminded me of why I liked them in the first place.
Fast-forward to 2010, specifically Tuesday night at the Kool Haus in Toronto. Circumstances beyond their control – namely their leaving Capitol after one album and the departure of founding bassist Carlos Dengler – have forced Interpol out of their comfort zone and though three years isn’t that long a time, the musical landscape has changed enough that they may be finding themselves in the unfamiliar position of being underdogs. And though these dates in advance of the September 7 release of their self-titled fourth album were ostensibly to make up for their support slots on the cancelled U2 Summer tour, also on the agenda was retrenching and seeking to remind fans why Interpol were the soundtrack to their early-mid ’00s.
Striding on stage besuited and dapper as ever, the five-piece touring ensemble started things off with the new and hopefully prescient “Success”, the pulsing opener to Interpol. It’s interesting that after getting progressively cleaner-sounding with each album, the new record dives back into the sonic muck, relatively speaking, thanks to post-production work from uber-shoegaze producer Alan Moulder, and while it still doesn’t reach the heights of their debut, it does possess a pleasing denseness and sophistication that hits the balance that they were striving for on Love. It would be only one of four new songs previewed, though, as the bulk of the set stuck to their first two records and thereby ensured the just-about sold-out house would remain largely enraptured for 90 minutes or so and lose their shit more than a few times for numbers – classics? – like “PDA”, “NYC” and “Slow Hands”.
In the past, it was Dengler – all low-slung bass, questionable moustache and irresistible aloofness – who acted as the visual focus for the band but with him gone and touring players Dave Pajo and Brandon Curtis off to the side tending to their bass and keyboard duties respectively, it left guitarists Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler to provide the band’s stage presence. Kessler obliged, barely standing still throughout the show in favour of dancing/lurching around the stage and Banks, never the most magnetic frontman, was somehow more charismatic and animated than in the past. Even with the new players, Interpol were superbly tight throughout, performing with a nimbleness and weight that you can’t take for granted. That cohesion has always their greatest strength, moreso than any showmanship, so it was a relief to see that that survived the lineup changes.
It can be argued that Interpol sound and style are so tightly tied to a time and place that it would be hard if not impossible for them to ever regain that level of relevance. But it’s also true that while all the imitators that followed in their wake have largely disappeared, the original article has persisted and stayed true to themselves well past fashionable, and it still resonates. Either way, it feels good to have Interpol back.
Photos: Interpol @ The Kool Haus – August 10, 2010
MP3: Interpol – “Lights”
MP3: Interpol – “NYC”
MP3: Interpol – “PDA”
Video: Interpol – “Lights”
Video: Interpol – “The Heinrich Maneuver”
Video: Interpol – “No I In Threesome”
Video: Interpol – “Mammoth”
Video: Interpol – “C’Mere”
Video: Interpol – “Evil”
Video: Interpol – “Slow Hands”
Video: Interpol – “PDA”
Video: Interpol – “Obstacle 1”
Video: Interpol – “NYC”
Belle & Sebastian have released some of the salient details about their next album – it will be called Write About Love, look like this and be out on some yet to be announced date this Fall – probably sometime around their October tour dates that include Massey Hall on the 12th of the month.
Pitchfork talks to Isobel Campbell about her new album with Mark Lanegan Hawk, out August 24, cancelled shows and the state of her relationship with her old band. She and Lanegan are at Lee’s Palace on October 20.
The triple-bill of Dawes, Peter Wolf Crier and Vetiver will be at the Horseshoe on November 8. For Peter Wolf Crier, it’ll be their second time in town in just over a month and a half as they’re also part of a bill with Rogue Wave and Midlake at the Opera House on September 24. There’s a concert video with them available over at Baeble Music.