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Paul Banks, Interpol (photo © Martin Allen for Sync)

 

Promoting sixth studio album Marauder with a string of intimate record store shows, alt-rock outfit Interpol brought their immersive sound to the rather compact surroundings of East London’s Rough Trade.

Diminutive though the space may be, once the record racks are wheeled aside, it actually works rather well as a music venue in terms of both sound and sightlines. Certainly the line-up of instore performances that they manage to secure here suggests that it is a notable stop-off for bands of all sizes in promoting their latest releases.

The place was truly packed for this one though, not least as the chance to see Interpol live is relatively rare in itself. Rarer still is the opportunity to see them this close-up – their next London shows (on 14 and 15 November) will be at the somewhat less bijoux Royal Albert Hall.

It’s clear that the New York trio – Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, and Sam Fogarino – take everything they do pretty seriously. We were in the building during their soundcheck and there seemed just as much going in to it as there would be for a full live show. During the main event too, despite his strong stage presence, Banks is a man of few words, preferring instead to let the music do the talking. And wow does it do that!

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Sam Fogarino, Interpol (photo © Martin Allen for Sync)

 

Their 45-minute set included plenty of the band’s classics, including opener Evil, Slow Hands, and Leif Erikson and yet unusually in such situations, the fans seemed to be far more excited to hear some of the tracks from the new album. Single release The Rover sounded especially strong, with Kessler’s faultless guitar providing the mesmerising backbone.

On one of his rare interludes between the tracks, Banks thanked everyone for coming out to see them: “We don’t get to play these smaller shows too often so it’s great to get to meet some of our die-hard fans.”

Having also attended their show the previous night at Pryzm in Kingston-upon-Thames, there’s no doubting that this was a significantly truncated set. Those at the Kingston show were treated to around 30 minutes more, including the very excellent Number 10 from the new album, All The Rage Back Home from 2014 album El Pintor, and Take You On A Cruise from 2004’s Antics.

Again, during that previous gig, it was the new material that got the real buzz of excitement among the fans. For those who have heard the latest album, this may come as little surprise. Marauder is a brooding, relentless album of the kind that fans would have come to expect, but so full is it of really strong tracks that it’s not stretching things too much to say it is on a par with the band’s finest work to date, comparing well even with the iconic Antics.

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Daniel Kessler, Interpol (photo © Martin Allen for Sync)

 

It is testament to Interpol’s staying power – and perhaps due in part to the refreshing effect of a two-year hiatus from 2012 – that they are still capable of bold, challenging, and inventive new material like this after all these years. They also remain one of the tightest, most polished live bands around, capable of delivering majestic performances that live long in the memory.

Interpol kick off a US and European tour on 11 September – full details here.

Setlist: Not Even Jail / If You Really Love Nothing / Evil / Complications / Slow Hands / NYSMAW / Leif Erikson / The Rover / Obstacle 1

Words and photos by Martin Allen

 

 

Interpol – If you Really Love Nothing

 

Interpol – The Rover (Live at TRNSMT 2018, Glasgow)

 

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