Live Report - Interpol, Warm Digits
Posted on Monday, 17 March 2014 | No Comments
NYC's sharpest dressers came out of hibernation in Newcastle, and Endless Window was there to report.
Before we begin on the night, a note about the Riverside. The Riverside that currently exists on the Newcastle quayside, the one tht this gig took place in, is not really the Riverside. The real Riverside was an alternative concert and club venue run on a co-operative basis that existed in the eighties and nineties, a venue that hosted legendary performances by big names like Nirvana, David Bowie and Sonic Youth amongst many others. That venue closed in 1999, and the Riverside that exists now is not it. The Riverside that exists now is a cynical re-branding of what was previously Sea nightclub that trades on the name of its more illustrious predecessor while running nights aimed squarely at the Geordie Shore contingent. One Riverside inspired a biography - have a guess which.
This said though, hats off to local promoters Think Tank for trying to make the Riverside worthy of the name again and turning it back into a mid-size concert venue. Truth be told, it's not a bad room - the stage could be a bit higher, but the sound's good and the decor isn't too gauche. On this evidence, they could maybe do with lowering their capacity slightly - there's sold out, and then there's the genuine bottlenecking in the crowd that happened last night - but Think Tank are clearly determined to give this new Riverside some dignity back (especially when you consider the last attempt at a major rock gig here was The Fall in 2011 where a piss-takingly late and astonishingly pissed Mark E Smith drove the gig into the ditch). It's an impressive statement of intent as well to launch their residency at the venue with Interpol's first gig in three years, providing the band with a smaller scale warm-up before their comeback dates on the NME Tour this month.
Opening the night though were returning local heroes Warm Digits. If the crowd might have been less familiar with the band than when they usually hit these parts, it proved no obstacle whatsoever. Having the visual presence of Warm Digits can't hurt, with the duo of Steve Jefferis and Andrew Hodson as ever flanked by their own retro-futurist projections and animation, the trippy Metro projections for The Connected Coast from Interchange working superbly in the venue. For the most part though, they leaned on the more disco-friendly side of their sound, airing propulsive first albums tracks like One Track Groove and the wonderfully titled bass-driven Trans-Pennine Express. As ever, the duo stratch that kraut-funk spot expertly, and make the wait for LP3 that bit more tantalising.
Just before Interpol make it onto the stage, someone in the crowd next to us tells his friend "don't expect any crowd interaction tonight." Needless to say, it's mere seconds before he's proven wrong, as the band announced their return with a storming version of Say Hello to the Angels, before blasting their way through Antics singles Evil and C'mere straight after: is getting some six-hundred people to bellow along to Paul Banks' ever nonsensical lyrics enough crowd interaction for you? Most of the set is, rather notably, tilted towards the first two iconic albums that thrust Interpol to fame. While not every fan favourite gets an airing - what do you mean, no NYC? - big guns like Obstacle 1 and the inevitable Slow Hands as well as less expected cuts like Hands Away and Take You On a Cruise (given a beautiful extended mid-section here, albiet due to issues with Sam Fogarino's kit) all get energetic and intense renditions for a devoted crowd. As for the two albums that followed though, only Mammoth and The Heinrich Maneveur survive from Our Love to Admire while their last self-titled record is only represented by an encore of Lights. While their last records are undeniably flawed - Our Love to Admire contained a few genuine duds, whilst the more intricate and subtle songwriting the band attempted on Interpol got shot in the foot by a flat, muddy mixing job - it's still a shame to see them becoming ignored by the band.
Seemingly aware of the extreme danger the band face of becoming a heritage act far before their time, they also air three new tracks from their forthcoming fifth album for the first time. If these three tracks are anything to go by, their aim seems to be to try and marry the more intricate and considered musicianship of Interpol with the drive and energy of Antics. My Desire (part of which can be seen here) is the one that most obviously follows on from the self-titled, with Daniel Kessler's wiry guitar line driving on this tense track. Anywhere (viewable here) followed the Antics formula more closely, and seems a fairly likely candidate for a single at some point, but the real standout (and obvious candidate for lead single from the album) was the final new track All The Rage Back Home. Opening with driving organ reminiscent of Next Exit, the track then ramps up a gear and goes into some classic Interpol guitar interplay alongside a huge swelling chorus. If they can avoid the overproduction of their recent work, then this new record could be the shot in the arm they're looking for. Perhaps the best sign is that even when they're reaching into the past, as with closing number Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down, they're playing with a passion that wasn't always evident on their last few tours. If they can keep this new dynamic going, then the remaining Interpol trio might have found their next step.