Puffing on cigarettes with their permanent scowls, the suit-and-tie clad members of Interpol played a sold-out show at the Electric Factory Sunday night. Philadelphia was the last stop in the United States. Judging from some of the members’ scraggly facial hair and greasy locks, you might discern that they may have been a little worn out from a grueling schedule. Carlos D. looked perfectly primped as usual, pacing around on the stage with his bass – wearing a gun holster.
Despite some of the members’ disheveled appearance, they seemed indefatigable as they rocked hard for nearly 90 minutes, playing songs from their first album Turn on the Bright Lights and their latest, Antics. Interpol will be continuing their tour through the summer in Europe.
They were originally scheduled to make an appearance at the Factory on Feb. 28, but winter’s wrath bombarded Philadelphia and the East Coast, blanketing the city in several inches of snow. But on a chilly, rainy Easter Sunday evening, Interpol kept their promise of ‘going to the city’ – that is Philly, of course.
Blonde Redhead made a stellar opening for Interpol. The trio’s music was on the verge of experimental, as songs ranged from discordant cacophony to harmonious plinking of the keyboard. While some in the audience were no doubt enthralled, others seemed bored, as their songs tended to become monotonous. But Redhead proved that they could deftly thread thrashing noise with melancholy interludes, mostly by Japanese singer Kazu Makino’s tiny voice.
Interpol opened with “Next Exit,” the preamble to Antics. The song’s thumping, slow beat and wailing guitar was perfectly balanced by lead singer Paul Banks’ deep droning voice. Banks crooned to an enthusiastic crowd while being bathed in hazy neon lights and his own cigarette smoke. The next song, “Slow Hands,” was unusually fast compared to the album version. Sam Fogarino blasted away on the drums, while guitarist Daniel Kessler almost waltzed a bit to the rhythm as he played. During “Slow Hands,” a shocking and bewildering occurrence took place – people were dancing a little. Nobody dances at Interpol shows.
Blasco, Interpol’s touring keyboardist, stood completely still during their performance back in November (a rather hilarious thing to see – not even a tap of the foot). He only moved his hands to play the keyboard. But this time around, Blasco moved awkwardly to the music, bouncing his knee a little and making unintentional robot-like movements. It was still very funny to watch and proved that the show was wildly energetic, making even the most rigid people move.
The band focused on songs from Antics but did not forget the Turn on the Bright Lights fans. “Leif Erikson” was especially good, and Kessler instantly became a ham as he moved up to the front of the stage strumming the song’s minor chords. Although plentiful on both albums, the minor chords tended to be drowned out by the drums at times during the show. This aspect was both good and bad; it added more energy to the rhythm but covered up some of the depth of Interpol’s music.
At the end, Interpol came back out with a three-song encore, much to the delight of an unsatisfied crowd. They played an obscure song, “The Specialist,” which was a song that would probably belong to Bright Lights. “Obstacle 1” and “Roland,” ended the night with explosive guitars and drums. The ultra-hip New Yorkers (I know, that goes hand-in-hand) put on a compelling live show and proved that they can still rock even after a rigorous tour.
Ellen Minsavage can be reached at email@example.com.