Review: Interpol and School of Seven Bells at the Pageant, Friday, February 11

Paul Banks of Interpol - Todd Owyoung
Todd Owyoung
Paul Banks of Interpol

Paul Banks isn't chatty. He's not big on smiling, or doing that gross thing where a rock star cracks a joke that simultaneously gets the crowd a little moist in the drawers and makes them hate the guy for being so damn winning. And just to be clear, that's not a bad thing, and it isn't a criticism on his demeanor; it's merely an observation. Still, someone has to call out the elephant in the room last night -- where was the fervor from the crowd? Where was the standing ovation for a band that defied expectations? Are we so used to consuming without comment that we've forgotten our manners? Or were we taking cues from Banksy et al, buttoned-up in their suits and ties?

View a slideshow of photos from Interpol and School of Seven Bells at the Pageant

The departure of bassist Carlos Dengler should have made last night's performance at the Pageant another snorecore delivery, but the band bucked the trend of mediocrity found on its recent tours. Interpol's on a mission for redemption, and with hired guns David Pajo (of Tortoise and Slint fame) and keyboardist Brandon Curtis (Secret Machines) aboard, the group proved it can still level a crowd.

Banks was in fine fettle, his unmistakable vocals oscillating from manic entreaty to jaded melancholy. Predictably, the rhythm section was on fire throughout the 90-minute set. Interpol opened with "Success," from 2010's self-titled album, followed by a triple dose of 2002 and 2004. The speedy "Say Hello to The Angels" the paranoiac swell of "Narc" and understated morosity of "Hands Away" washed over the crowd; a cool nostalgia breeze elicited much fist-pumping and invisble pogo-ing.

Banks rightly assumed that the majority of the audience wasn't as familiar with the new Interpol material, and those were the only songs he name checked after playing them. "That song is called 'Barricade,'" he said, as if politely admitting that there's a reason why we don't know these songs. It's indicative of the Interpol way, and it set them apart from the pack of New York indie bands clamoring for attention in the early Aughts; the band is incredibly professional and ineffably dignified.

Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino - Todd Owyoung
Todd Owyoung
Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino

"Length of Love" showed Interpol at its best and most Joy Division-y, angular guitar slicing through taut, foreboding rhythms. Another new track, "Lights," showcased the band's recent preoccupation with texture. The band has given up trying to deliver the precise hooks and simplistic urgency of its earlier work (such as "C'mere" and "Take You On A Cruise") and it's now experimenting with rendering a (not unwelcome) cinematic tactility.

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