Words: Sean Moore/ Photos: Derrick Rossignol
It’s been four years since the New York City indie rock, scene, band Interpol has played the State Theatre, and prior to that, they first played in Portland in 2005. Each time they’ve played the venue, they have brought an incredible show of that signature post-punk sound that found its way in and out of New York’s underground scene the early 2000s. This time around was absolutely no different, and although the band has gone through a few lineup changes, most notably the departure of original bassist Carlos Dengler in 2010, the core of the band Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, and Sam Fogarino play as well, if not better, as they’ve aged. Frontman Paul Banks’ signature baritone voice being quite a distinct part of their sound, and reminds any listener of Joy Division’s late singer Ian Curtis, has not changed over the years and makes one wonder exactly what his secret could be.
The band has been overseas for the majority of the summer, playing many festival dates, in support of 2018’s Marauder and this year’s EP A Fine Mess. Their stop in Portland, Maine was the first United States’ date on this leg of their tour and it was worth the wait. Their setlist contained just about everything long-time fans would want to hear, as they played a mix from their entire catalogue, skipping over their self-titled album, though. The majority of their set relied heavily on Turn on the Bright Lights, Antics, and Our Love to Admire.
The band walked out on stage exactly at 9:30 and the crowd cheered loudly for their return. Each member of the band, excluding the drummer, was wearing all black, as per usual. A look that helped define them as the post-punk revivalists of the early-2000s, and one they’ve embraced throughout the last two-decades. It should also be mentioned that there is a short list of musicians that are cool enough to get away with wearing shades inside of a dark venue, and Paul Banks is definitely on that list. Perhaps it is because the shades go along with the all-black attire. Or perhaps it is more about the way Banks carries himself with an unmatched bravado when he is on that stage, he just seems to have a certain je ne sais quoi, making women in the audience fall in love with him and the men in the audience want to be him.
The cheers got louder when the first chords of “Pioneer of the Falls” started and singer Paul Banks delivered his lines clearly and slowly to the admiring audience. Then, they ripped right into the fast-paced, slick guitar-sounding “C’mere” and the crowd started dancing like everyone was enjoying a late-night out at an underground New York City club, where one could’ve probably discovered the band back in their early days. The difference these days though is that the band can deliver a far more elaborate stage show, including pulsing lights, a fog machine, and a larger-than-normal banner that couldn’t even fit the “I” or the “L” of the band’s name. Heads were nodding to the rhythmic pounding of the drums throughout the night. “If You Really Love Nothing,” from Marauder followed. Banks thanked the crowd before taking a breath and then delivered the opening line of the incredibly catchy “The Heinrich Maneuver.” When you hear Banks’ baritone voice deliver biting lines like “How are things on the west coast,” along with the band’s tight playing, you cannot help but jump up and down. This song, along with a few others during the night, include false endings or complete stops mid-song that leave the crowd suspended mid-air, before the band kicks back in, led most of the time by the drummer’s thumping and pounding, the heartbeat of the band.
It was clear that the audience fully appreciated and loved hearing the songs from Turn on the Bright Lights, as those were the songs that received the loudest cheers. In fact, they played “The New” and “Say Hello to the Angels” back to back and everyone lost their minds. Their newer songs, like “The Rover” and “Complications” fit in nicely with the earlier songs in that they seem to be a return to form for a band that has relied on a specific style for years, venturing a bit out of their comfort zone by adding keyboards to a few songs, which in essence adds to the texture of their songs. For this show, they replaced “NYC” in the set with a new song “Flight of Fancy,” but once the bassist started playing the incredible bassline at the beginning of “Evil,” all was forgiven. They ended their set with “All the Rage Back Home” and perhaps their biggest, most well-received radio hit, “Slow Hands,” which is another fast-paced three-minute track that just races at a speed not reserved for slow-handed musicians, especially when the drummer pounded out those last beats in almost double-time at the end.
Even if the crowd knew the band would come back for an encore, it seemed like they wanted Interpol to know how loved they were and how badly they desired more songs. The men delivered on the unspoken promise of an encore after about a minute or two of cheering from the crowd. If you’re an Interpol fan, the encore sealed the deal on an incredible night as they played three tracks from Turn on the Bright Lights, starting with the slow-burner, and opening track “Untitled,” which is a very simplistic, beautiful tune that kind of brings to mind something The Cure would’ve recorded. Then, they played “Roland” and ended the night perfectly with “Obstacle 1” and the entire crowd was jumping up and down, dancing and finishing off their drinks, capping off a night of music fulfillment from a beloved band that sounded absolutely amazing and knew what their fans wanted from them.