Interpol's Demise Greatly Exaggerated

Concert Review: Interpol @ Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, January 27, 2011

By Chris "Gutter" Rose

Photos by Chris Rose

Perusing many ‘best of 2010’ lists, I noticed I wasn’t the only one who wrote Interpol off - everyone did. The new self-titled cd was middling at best and with the loss of Carlos D, the perception was they were on the way down.

Their obituary was mentally written far and wide.

Last night in Vancouver, they kicked off the first North American date of their 2011 tour, the second leg for this album, and I can attest that reports of their demise are grossly exaggerated.

Chalk it up to Carlo’s departure, the break from touring, or an uncomfirmed trip to Betty Ford or New Jersey ;-), but there was renewed and infectious freshness to the band.

Never before have I seen them so loose and – gasp – smiling! They were genuinely enjoying themselves, a dramatic metamorphosis from the dour crew that played the 2008 Pemberton Festival. 

Their sound this night was booming and full, complemented by a ‘barricade’ of lights and smoke. 

"Never before have I seen them so loose and – gasp

– smiling!"

The band's look has evolved but remains intact: Daniel and Paul looked like metrosexual walk-ons from Deadwood, and Sam - a little shaggier then usual – rocked the band’standard issue pointy-shoes, tie and GQ shirt. Hired guns bassist David Pajo and keyboardist Brandon Curtis also kept up appearances, as it were.

Drawing on the tapestry of their rich back catalog, especially the iconic Turn on the Bright Lights, the set list was engaging, well paced and only suffered one dog, the new “Summer Well”.

Never could you call Interpol a singles band, but what stealthily happened this evening was other album tracks evolved and became new classics: “Not Even Jail” and “Rest My Chemistry” were as standout as “PDA” “Obstacle 1” and “Slow Hands.”

As far as the new cd goes live, the best parts became better (“Barricade”, “Lights” and “Success”); seemingly filler improved (“Memory Serves”); and lesser songs stayed lesser (the aforementioned “Summer Well”).

Certain songs were no doubt missed, par for the course as the canon grows. Given that this gig was 'on the west coast', “Heimlich Maneuver” should have been a shoo-in, and “Leif Erikson” will always captivate.

However, with quantity of the 19-song overture and the general warmth of the proceedings, there is no complaint. In fact, this was (slow) hands-down one of their best shows of 13 I’ve seen, affirmation that they are still relevant and capable of momentous things.

My only regret is not trusting them enough to have made the appropriate arrangements to be in Seattle tonight for their Showbox show.

I will have to make amends at Coachella, where I can then determine if their freshness stems from their time off of touring or …. something else.

Setlist:

Success
Say Hello To The Angels
Narc
Hands Away
Barricade
Rest My Chemistry
Evil
Length of Love
Lights
C'mere
Summer Well
Take You On A Cruise
PDA
Memory Serves
Obstacle 1

Encore:

NYC
The New
Slow Hands
Not Even Jail

Click here for an Interpol in Vancouver photo gallery.