Interpol Shines Some Light in Concert

Lead vocalist Paul Banks and his band Interpol in concert at the House of Blues Boston. (Photo: Paul Trinh)

Lights and shadowplay figure into Interpol’s set at a recent concert in Boston at the House of Blues, making for an evening of crafted mood-rock on the cold, blustery winter night they appeared here. The NYC post-punk rock band just wrapped a U.S. tour in support of their 2010 self-titled release. This would be my second time in revisiting the band in concert since their 2005 Houston appearance. It’s been a while, but it’s good to see a band evolve after establishing some years of success.

The introduction of Interpol’s 2002 debut, Turn On the Bright Lights, carved a new modern rock edge that was an antidote to the grungy turn-of-the-21st-century garage rock revivalists, i.e., The Strokes. From that point, fans were turned on by Interpol’s icy and reverberant guitar melodies, while others complained they were too distant and downtrodden. Call it the new “mope-rock” movement that may have inspired other bands: Editors, Glasvegas, The xx.

Interpol’s brand of jangly guitars and cold sounds were enlivened in a live context. The distinctively nasal lead vocals of Paul Banks came through clear as the band opened with new song “Success”. Throughout the 90-minute performance, the songs were completely enhanced and fleshed out with a new vigor and texture. On CD, the band performs in calculated thoughtfulness. In concert, new layers of dimension were revealed, as it should be. Even songs featuring spare and minimalistic guitar compositions were illuminated in textural light. The silhouetted lighting design evoked the musical introspection, but gave an actual presence to singer Banks and his band. Although I do not consider Interpol a danceable band with much to move for, an enthusiastic fan next to me was so into it as if he were on a pogo stick.

Brooklyn band School of Seven Bells opened the night with a welcome mix of ethereal pop vocals by Alejandra de la Deheza and wispy guitar inflections by Benjamin Curtis. Romantic ballads like “Joviann” and “I L U” are cool standouts from their debut Disconnect From Desire. Inspiration from ’80’s New Wave band Siouxsie and the Banshees was clearly evident in a catchy cover interpretation of “Kiss Them For Me.” Gauzy and atmospheric in sound, School of Seven Bells is my latest musical discovery for 2011 and will be welcome in a headlining slot at future concerts should they graduate.

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