Interpol at Somerset House
It’s going to be a stellar summer for London fans of the early 2000s New York indie scene. Next month sees The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs take to the stage at All Points East in Victoria Park. But in July it’s their moody contemporaries Interpol who have a more picturesque backdrop: playing Somerset House’s Summer Series on Monday. Although the venue’s neoclassical Georgian grandeur is rather different to the scuzzy bars of Manhattan’s Lower East Side where they got their start, the music feels as languidly thrilling as ever.
After opening with Toni, the lead single from their lockdown album The Other Side of Make Believe, Interpol move on to a set that combines their early classics with newer material. With Obstacle 1, from their critically revered debut, Turn On the Bright Lights, it’s easy to see how they shared a nascent scene with The Strokes. Yet frontman Paul Banks’ hallmark drifting industrial vocals ensure a major point of difference that shows why even in their early days the group would never be seen as piggybacking on their fellow New Yorkers’ success. Narc, from Antics, the second album that broke Interpol into mainstream consciousness, truly begins to showcase Daniel Kessler’s unmistakable brooding minimalist riffs and the snare-heavy sound that means they are still a headline act more than two decades after their emergence.
Inevitably, it’s also Antics, their commercial highpoint, that provides the gig’s anthemic highlights, like Evil, a track whose ubiquity on MTV2 was once rivalled only by ad breaks. It’s a great song that combines Interpol’s downcast indie sensibilities with an uplifting simplicity – and results in a sing-a-long that echoes around the Somerset House quadrangle. It’s closely followed by C’mere, while Slow Hands closes a much-desired encore.
Rarely though can a group’s newer material have blended so well with their older favourites. With this Interpol gig, one can see their progression as artists: from the rawness of their early work, like PDA and Leif Erikson, through their time as moody cousins of the all-conquering mid-2000s indie rock scene, into the more deliberative, fuller sound of recent years. Newer efforts like Fables and Into the Night sit nicely alongside their best-known tracks. Each in their own way fits the grand Thameside setting, drifting above a crowd clad – like the band – largely in black, and into the threateningly cloudy sky above.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Interpol’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Evil here: