Interpol - Live 2014

Paul Banks at INTERPOL’s NME Tour in Glasgow this March
Photo by Ross Gilmore

People tend to downplay the aspect of aging by saying such ’wise’ phrases like ‘You’re only as old as your feel’ and ‘Age is nothing but a number.’ But, well, it’s not that easy. Age does indeed have an impact. For example on the way you experience certain things. Love, loss and luck are the heavier ones but art also remains an important aspect. And you can’t deny that you experience music differently in your early twenties then in your early thirties. It’s often more intense, existential and meaningful. Or am I alone with that opinion?

I’m about to turn 30 in a couple of weeks. Yeah, just don’t make a big deal out of this fact. But it’s a funny coincidence. It was more or less exactly ten years ago when I was first introduced to the music of INTERPOL via their sophomore album Antics. During the following decade the four- and later – three-piece from New York City became one of the most important bands of my private life. Their music was essential, it provided guidance, solace and all these good aspects you admire as a fan. It was an intense period, maybe also for the group. Now, ten years later – and after various encounters during the past decade – we meet again, facing the future. It’s like a bittersweet love story.

It’s been a while. Four years after their mediocre self-titled fourth album INTERPOL are about to return with a new album in early September, called El Pintor. In a manner of usual music business habits the band returns with a series of festival gigs prior to the release. But since it’s always nice to get a bit extra money from the starved out fans the trio also includes a couple of club gigs into their schedule. On this Thursday night Leipzig’s Täubchenthal had the honour of hosting the ‘welcome back’-party. It became a triumphant comeback, mainly due to the fact that INTERPOL celebrated their praised early days.

Interpol - Press 2014Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, Sam Fogarino – the three gentlemen may look a bit older now but they are still in style. As always Kessler enters the stage with suit and tie while Banks premiered his stylish new short haircut. Two fellow musicians joined the guys on stage; Brandon Curtis on keyboards and bassist Brad Truax who got the tough job of replacing charismatic Carlos Dengler after he left the band back in 2010. Say Hello To The Angels, Evil, C’Mere – the band starts right away with a triumvirate of fast early tunes, taking us right back into the band’s golden period between 2002 and 2004. INTERPOL’s unconditional love for their first two albums Turn On The Bright Lights and Antics was one of the main surprises of the evening. They completely ignored the existence of 2007’s Out Love To Admire and only played the hypnotic Lights from Interpol during the encore.

It was kind of an interesting choice for the band, especially when you see these classics next to the three new tracks. The dark and grooving My Desire, the powerful Anywhere and the furious All The Rage Back Home, the opening track of El Pintor, worked surprisingly well next to classics like PDA or Not Even Jail. It looks like INTERPOL are fully heading back to the dark and dry sound of their early days with the new records. The orchestral pop adventures of Our Love To Admire are gone and so seems to be the indecisiveness of Interpol. A cold return to former strength. Revisiting the past is always a risky choice.

But it doesn’t actually matter on a night like this which worked as a pure celebration of nostalgia. The spark in the eyes of the audience was undeniable once Kessler played his distinctive riffs. Even Banks smiled all over his face. Age didn’t matter at that moment. We were caught in a bubble where time and space didn’t matter. Forget about your job, your family, your decreasing hairline or maybe even the first crinkles. Again it was about the music, the sound, the intensity. We spies, we slow hands / Put the weights all around yourself.’

INTERPOL delivered a fan-pleasing event for all old school heads, playing such hidden treasures like Hands Away and Leif Erikson and finishing with the evergreens Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down and Obstacle 1. ‘It’s different now that I’m poor and aging’ is a key line from that final track. Well, in the case of INTERPOL it’s not entirely the case. Especially the aspect of ‘I’ll never see this face again.’ These are interesting times, for the band and maybe for the fans as well. Yes, our lives have changed, some things remain others not. Anyway, at this night in Leipzig these three gentlemen made clear that they’ll stick around a bit longer in our lives. A salute to the next decade.