Live review by Interpol

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  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (20 votes)
Interpol: Live

Sound — 8
Before there was the UK's Editors, there was New York City's prog rock band Interpol. And before both of them there was the UK's Joy Division and Siouxsie And The Banshees heralding the banners of synth textured Brit-pop, shoegazey rock, and post punk garters. Holding steady to those garters is Interpol whose current release is a 6-track live EP from Capitol Records that was taped at the Astoria Club in London on July 2, 2007. Two songs from the live LP, Obstacle 1 and Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down are from Interpol's first disc Turn On The Bright Lights released in 2002, and the other four tracks, Pioneer To The Falls, Mammoth, The Heinrich Maneuver, and Rest My Chemistry are from the band's recent studio album, the critically acclaimed Our Love To Admire. The live performance enhances the haunting echo in lead singer/guitarist Paul Banks' voice, which resounds with a radiance that shares a likeness to the Editors lead singer Tom Smith on tracks like Pioneer To The Falls and The Heinrich Maneuver. The synth-textured guitar patterns of Banks and Daniel Kessler have a broad, shingled vibrancy while layering the shimmering tones in the bass pulls by Carlos Dengler and the blunt dabs of the drum strikes from Sam Fogarino. The sonic glaze of the guitar effects have a roots rock vibration reminiscent of Jeff Buckley wrapping around the melodics of The Heinrich Maneuver, and the rock buzz in the shoegaze textures for Mammoth have circular riffs that buildup and breakdown with synchronized swells reflective of Brit-pop's new wave artist Matt Johnson from The The. The songs have a crystally sonic sheen which produces a soft, ecclesiast synergy on Rest My Chemistry, which turns into tightly seamed notes and resounding flourishes on Stella Was A Diver And She Was Always Down. One very noticeable aspect about Interpol's music is that their standards have been unwavering, showing similar shoegazey rock swags in the tracks from their debut album, as they do in the songs from their current studio album Our Love To Admire in 2007.

Lyrics — 10
Not only has Interpol's music been unwavering producing synth-textured rock paradigms, but their lyrics have been consistent, always having a cryptic meaning whether you choose a song from their first album or one from their current disc. For instance, the band's song The Heinrich Maneuver is like a poem that could very well come from a personal experience but it's phrasing is open to interpretation, How are things on the west coast/ Hear you're moving real fine tonight/ You wore those shoes side to side/ Ah strut those shoes/ We'll go roaming in the night/ Well how are things on the west coast/ Yeah, but you're an actress, I don't identify. Interpol is a band that only they know what their words mean, and they are the type of band who probably cannot put their finger on it. The lyrics are definitely one of a kind.

Overall Impression — 8
Interpol Live shows the band in the best light, hearing the band perform live. In these tracks, you can hear the finer points of their music, the changes in the bass pulls and the dynamics in the guitar effects. Their studio albums are more of a reflection of the amount of production work that goes into their songs, specifically making them sound more automated, but live, their songs are more human and you can hear the intricate tooling that inlays the synth-propped layers of the songs. I definitely prefer the band's live album over their studio offerings. It is less technical and more emotionally impacted and vibrant.

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    hate that it's only six tracks, but it is an EP after all... i hope they put out a live DVD or a video compilation or something. that would be great.
    Joy Division sure, but please don't compare Interpol to Souxsie and the Banshees. Sure, they both fit into that late-70s Post-Punk era, but the two are very, very dissimilar. Also, you start with "before there was the UK's Editors," which would seem to imply that Interpol's time is passed and Editors are the more currently famous ones, which would be weird seeing as how Interpol charted far better than Editors with both their summer releases. With that said, I saw Interpol live at the Forum here in Los Angeles and I have to say I was severely disappointed. Interpol is one of my favorite bands, and Dan Kessler's playing is one of my main guitar influences (one of most often-used techniques is the tremolo pick, which I have to say Turn On the Bright Lights practically taught me how to do). But the live show was, unfortunately, rather bland. They came on, played some songs with lights flashing around them, and left. There was no "show" there, only music. Realistically, you can't do that. A total lack of stage presence has never been "arty" or "cool," always just...boring. Also, Paul Banks' voice seemed incredibly affected live. In addition, and I don't blame the band for this, but I could not hear Carlos Dengler's bass AT ALL. That was a huge let down, as he's one of my favorite bassists of all time (as well as the only member of that band that could actually play an instrument well while they were recording TOtBL). Also, the entire crowed only got excited when they played songs from Our Love to Admire , while I seemed to be the only one around me that knew songs from Antics and TOtBL. Two of my friends were actually at the show that this EP was recorded at, and they seemed to have had a better experience than I did. But still, I was very disappointed with Interpol's performance. I expected far more. Also, speaking of Editors, I actually have pit tickets to an Editors show next month (with Hot Hot Heat and Louis XIV opening!), so I can only hope they're good. The same friends who saw Interpol told me that the Editors show was much more "fun" than the Interpol one (apparently Editors have a lot of stage presence and energy), so that should be exciting. I can only hope their show doesn't suck as badly as their newest album.
    Paul Lambeth
    kingurth: I have to disagree with you there regarding experiences of Interpol live. I wasn't at the show this was recorded at but I was at another recently in London. The stage presence was created by the atmospherics of the music and the frailty that Banks delivered his vocals with. From a band with heavy shoegaze and a mysterious aura, I wasn't expecting exciting in terms of them dancing. I'd have been disappointed if they'd lost their mystique like that. I agree I couldn't hear Dengler's bass well, which made it difficult to tell that "Evil" had started, but the crowd did go crazy at every song, mainly from Antics and TOTBL to be honest. PDA was awesome. Then again, different shows mean different people attending - perhaps the London audience have always known Interpol better than yours. They managed to get the crowd going beforehand with Sam and Paul coming on with Blonde Redhead for "23". I passed up tickets to see Editors next month, purely because of the poor quality of the latest album.
    "There was no "show" there, only music" surely thats what you go to a gig for, for the music. I agree with paul that i would be very dissapointed if they started dancing around, it wouldn't go with their style of music and they would end up looking very stupid. "I passed up tickets to see Editors next month, purely because of the poor quality of the latest album" firstly i'd like to say that i love editors new album, i think it has some epic moments on it and i nearly like it as much as the first album. although it has some dissapointing songs, it also has some great songs such as smokers outside the hospital doors, bones, when anger shows and escape the nest. I think you made a mistake to pass up tickets to see editors, i saw them a few weeks ago and they are amazing live so that is your loss.