Interpol At The Hollywood Bowl, Thursday October 4th 2018
Interpol’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl on Thursday night, was one of the stops of their world tour, which will stretch till the beginning of 2019, and the New York band looked in great shape, as, while promoting their 6th studio album, ‘Marauder’, they ended up playing 20 songs, old and new, with the exact same assurance and confidence, Entering on stage at the sound of the first notes of ‘Pioneer to the Fall’, there was plenty of love to admire around for the alluring band and their stylish suits disappeared several times behind the smog machines before they came back for 2 encores and one last song, ‘Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down’, that they hadn’t played live for a while.
The New York band Sunflower Bean opened the night with frontgirlJulia Cumming’s voracious and sweet voice and Nick Kivlen’s driven guitar. It was an intense scream-pop, with a sort of Joan Jett’s fervor in the vocals but they went from poppy anthems to hard-rock numbers, head banging along dirty distorted guitar solos. Next, the Kills gave an aggressive and explosive set, with badass Allison Mosshart’s ravaging howls crashing against Jamie Hince’s cool and bluesy guitar. Even from my seat, they looked like a very dynamic duo, staying dangerous thanks to Allison’s badass attitude, and whenever she was bending her body in half with the mic in one hand or playing guitar, her delivery was carrying the same passion.
Is Interpol a dancing band? This was a recurrent idea in the back of my mind while looking at this giant disco ball hanging above the stage and sending bright flying spots all over the stage and the audience during Interpol’s performance. They aren’t LCD Soundsystem for sure, they are not even New Order despite the matching austere and elegant black suits, but no matter what, Interpol wanted us to dance to their dark beauty with this large disco ball. I actually saw a few people dancing and moving at the sound of the new tune ‘If You Really Love Nothing’ or oldies like ‘Slow Hands’ but the Hollywood Bowl never transformed into a real dancefloor. The pulsing beats were omnipresent, but there’s actually too much cerebral appreciation in Interpol’s music to let your legs and butts move with abandon. And there is Paul Banks’ voice, dark, somber and nasal with that unique blend of authoritarian tone and romantic vulnerability that captivates your attention. it was once again the case last night, demonstrating that Interpol has a unique sound. Although many will argue that the band has stolen its monochord authority to Bauhaus, Joy Division or some other post-punk gothic band, it’s difficult to not immediately recognize an Interpol song, even at the first listening,
Thursday night concert was about 100 minutes of music by a well-oiled band browsing its catalog with confidence, from ‘Turn On the Bright Lights’ to ‘Antics’, ‘Our Love to Admire’, ‘El Pintor’ and of course the recent ‘Marauder’. Interpol may have a few tricks which become easy to spot, as the moody atmosphere is consistently the same through their discography and Daniel Kessler’s tumultuous guitar turns around a series of inventions after 6 albums. Maybe because I know the sound so well, I can’t say that the new songs surprised me, while none of them turned out to be the stand-outs of the show. it’s rarely the case when a band plays some new material, but these new ones are not necessarily very catchy while underplaying Interpol’s favorite tricks that made their previous albums shine with a rare empowerment. The new material was rather eclipsed by the big hits like ‘Slow Hands’ and ‘Evil’, or other famous and beloved songs such as ‘All the Rage Back Home’, ‘NYC’, ‘Rest my Chemistry’…. However, I haven’t really spent a lot of time with the new album except for the single ‘the Rover’, and I will need a few more spins before I can share an opinion, but these new songs were wandering around Interpol’s themes without bringing new revelations.
After a few songs, it’s easy to realize that Interpol is a band playing at the edge of light and darkness, the guitars blending with Banks’ seductive croon guide to the light through a constant tension and a dense atmosphere of rock songs, whose rhythms sounded even more deranged this time, while the new ‘Complications’ even brought some Clash-like guitars. Most of the time, it’s a claustrophobic sound for a grandiose scenery, with their arena-ready sound filling up the bowl with ease.
The entire time, the band did not move much except for Kessler and his thunderous game on guitar, and Banks barely pronounced a word, just to thank us or name-check one of his bandmates. But the dialogue was exclusively done through the music, and this became even more real when their 2002 ‘Obstacle 1’ arrived with their signature hypnotic guitars, cryptic lyrics, and cold fervor. Here is the question, will Interpol ever be able to write another song like this one? Or will their new material always wander around the band’s classics without reaching the original icy fire that fueled ‘Slow Hands’ or ‘Rest my Chemistry’ for example? On Thursday night, I didn’t care, this is a band that has already touched too many hearts to not embrace the party and dance under the large disco ball.
Pioneer to the Fall
If You Really Love Nothing
All the Rage Back Home
Not Even Jail
Rest my Chemistry
Take you on a Cruise
Flight of Fancy
Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down