Interpol Live At The Roundhouse

InterpolIn 33 years of gig-going somehow I have never been to the Roundhouse in Camden. It turns out to be a really nice little venue with polite staff and a wooden ceiling held up by old wrought iron arches. And being and old railway turntable shed it really is round! Even back near the mixing desk you are still nice and close to the stage and as with every decent small venue the floor was suitably sticky at the end.

The members of Interpol amble onto the stage with little fanfare. They arm themselves with their instruments and launch straight into Say Hello To Angels, a suitably fast opening number. Although the sound is clear right from the off, it is obvious that Paul Banks' voice is suffering a little - it sounds like he has a cold and is singing his way through it. There are some of the higher notes that he can't hit despite the fact we know he usually can. It doesn't really detract from the performance though.

They follow the opening oldie with a couple of new songs from El Pintor, Anywhere and the lush My Blue Supreme. They are warmly greeted by the sold out crowd but it isn't really until Evil that the band click fully into gear and when they do it's highly compelling. Interpol really hit their stride with The New and after that they don't look back. A string of crowd favourites are played and the audience sing, clap and dance along with zeal. To be honest such is the devotion of most Interpol fans, they could have played any song off any album and it would have gone down well.

Despite the often dour, downbeat nature of much of Interpol's music the band look like they are really enjoying being on stage. Touring bass player Brad Truaxis is a real rock and roll animal, eshewing the other member's smart suits for a leather jacket and jeans. Brandon Curtis on keyboards also adds depth, especially to some songs that don't have keyboards on their recorded versions. As always though it is the band's core of Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler and Sam Fogarino who are the blackened heart and soul of the band. Superb musicians they are the kind of tight musical unit that only comes with years of playing together. Some of the guitar interplay between Daniel and Paul is amazing to watch.

Lighting is fairly minimal and often shines out into the audience throwing the band into shadowy figures on stage. As usual red is the predominant colour, although occasionally we get blue or white. There is also a screen behind the band which for the first few songs has the El Pintor 'hands' projected on it but these gradually coalesce into an eyeball shredding kaleidoscope of shapes, posterised clips of the band on stage, videos of New York, surfers and shifting lines of static, all of which enhance the show.

The run from Everything Is Wrong through to the last song of the set, Slow Hands, not only encompasses all their albums but showcases everything that is great about the band - the light and shade, the character, the atmosphere, the musicianship and the inventiveness of their songwriting. The trio of Lights, Breaker 1 and Pioneer To The Falls is a particular highlight. The band exit the stage but soon return and Paul Banks launches into the gentle opening of All The Rage Back Home which then explodes as the other instruments crash in. They finish the first encore with two classic tracks from Turn On The Bright Lights, PDA and NYC, both of which elicit huge cheers from the exhausted audience.

Special mention must be made of support band Health who were brilliant. I can't believe I've never heard of them as their combination of influences is right up my dark alley. They are like Neurosis × Godflesh + Napalm Death ÷ Joy Division enhanced by some truly strange keyboard noises. Their drummer is quite possibly the fittest man in the building and they make a wonderful noise. Possibly not the most obvious support band for Interpol but they went down very well.

Brought back for a final encore the band play the slow, atmospheric Untitled and everyone joins in singing the repeated "I will surprise you sometimes, I'll come round" refrain while the main guitar riff chimes and echoes before collapsing into feedback. The song ends and the band depart, thanking the crowd and leaving us thoroughly entertained. Despite the fact that Interpol aren't as 'heavy' a band as I often go to see, this is the hottest, seatiest gig I can remember attending since the Astoria closed and that's despite being told the Roundhouse is cold at this time of year. It is cold outside though, as we exit into the Camden night but we all leave with a warm glow inside thanks to Interpol and their superb performance.

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