Paul Banks brings NYC gloom to Koko
As the frontman of doom-laden New York post-punk peddlers Interpol, we’ve come to pretty much know what we’re going to get from Paul Banks et al: a lot of black, an atmosphere drenched in a particularly cinematic vein of melancholia and a great deal of forlorn glances into the middle distance from behind moody fringes.
So it was hardly a surprise to see the infamously mysterious and chilly frontman in a state of almost total silence for the majority of the night’s set. Other than a mumbled “I love you mum” to his mother in attendance, he was verbally closed off for the performance. Indeed, the whole show was tuned to a particularly low key vibration: no exciting visual affair, no real lightning, no real interaction – but the sound. Oh the sound.
Regardless of whatever ennui was seemingly pulsing through Banks, the way his material actually reverberated through the space was fantastic. Thundering drums battled it out with spiralling guitar lines on I’ll Sue You; set highlight The Base perfectly combined the miserable, the melodic and the cinematic, constantly notching itself upwards, and Banks’ unmistakeable Ian Curtis-style vocal delivery suddenly took a weird twist into something almost Prince-esque on Goodbye, Toronto.
It’s music that’s hardly a million miles removed from his day job, but there’s a certain grace and elegance (such as on the instrumental Lisbon) that often eludes Interpol’s output and fits beautifully alongside that voice. At times, such as on Paid for That, the familiarity with Banks’ particular musical style does threaten to turn the song into a self-parody, but thankfully, it never quite completely tumbles down that hole.
So the man behind Interpol is still as much of a chilly mystery as ever, though that shouldn’t really come as anything approaching a surprise. Paul Banks the man remains an enigma; the music remains a gloom-riddled joy.
Photos: Helen Parish
Watch the video for Young Again here: