Besides their similar feel to Joy Division, Interpol used to stick out in my mind because of their finesse with the sweeping and dramatic, yet sleepily poppy lullaby. Until their Tuesday night show at the Boulder Theater, that is. Their 90 minute set last night showed beyond any doubt that their sound is meant to be anything but sleepy.
The core trio of Paul Banks (guitar, lead vocals), Sam Fogarino (drums) and Daniel Kessler (guitar, vocals) were joined by bassist David Pajo and keyboardist Brandon Curtis as they tore through a flawless set, focusing on many from their latest record, but plenty from the past three as well. Banks’ voice — often compared to that of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis — came across at the top of a truly masterful mix (as the sound always seems to be at this particular venue) as powerful, and still characteristically tentative – as if he was just a little bit unsure of himself. He didn’t go so far in the imitation of that singer as to copy his jerky, stiff dancing, however, but was often seen almost joyously grinning. His guitar work filled in where Kessler’s left off, which wasn’t often, as they built songs around their signature sound, along with the heavy, ever-present bass, imitated perfectly by Pajos.
Meanwhile, Fogarino delivered a heroic performance on drums. The man was a machine, it seemed, and he never missed a single beat nor chance to embellish an already brilliant rhythmic background. And all the while he looked as if he was as comfortable as he would be reading or discussing the weather — the way true masters make everything they do look so easy.
The crowd — just more than two-thirds capacity (still impressive considering the frigid temperatures outside) — roared approval when the band hit the more popular songs like “Evil,” “Narc,” “Obstacle 1″ and “Slow Hands.” The newer material from last year’s self-titled effort was also well received.
The audience may have felt a slight privilege, since Interpol had canceled a show the previous night in Salt Lake City, and the band more than made up for it with their performance in Boulder.
Nathan Iverson is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb.