Better Than: Being inebriated during mass at the Vatican.
Is Interpol art? I asked myself that very question as I watched Paul Banks — a ridiculously handsome man, in a black suit and tie with slicked hair a la Don Draper (’cause that’s how he rolls) — perform inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wondered if I was witnessing some kind of majestic piece of historic art come to life.
Over the top? Perhaps. But when you’re inside this particular concert venue (which isn’t typically a concert venue) where there are no sticky floors, harsh lighting, or grotesque bathrooms, but rather Egyptian artifacts that date back from the Paleolithic to the Roman period, it feels special. It’s not every day a New York band performs inside a New York institution.
See also: How Interpol Took the Dirtiest Word in Rock ‘n’ Roll and Turned It on Its Head
In less than a week Interpol’s fifth album, El Pintor, drops, which is why we gathered last night to celebrate this monumental moment inside the Met’s Temple of Dendur. We’re also here because (a word from the show’s sponsor) the Met launched its new app, blah, blah, blah.
Another reason why this show important: it marks the start of the band’s first global tour in three years.
As the band made their way onto the makeshift stage it felt as they too were an ancient artifact being unearthed. They looked reborn. It may be the three-year hiatus, but the band seems a lot happier these days, Banks does anyway. The dude had a grin the entire time! It was kind of spectacular, considering he’s not exactly known for his smile. Although he was short on words during this brief hour-and-a-half show he was visibly taken by the entire of experience. He’d look around the museum, smile at the crowd, and gaze at the Egyptian temple in front of him.
“What an honor it is to play a hometown show at the Met,” Banks said, in awe. “This is pretty fucking cool.”
The show started promptly with “Untitled,” the slow, hypnotic tune from their 2002 debut album Turn on the Bright Lights, which was a good way to ease into things. That tune led into the sluggish, ballad-esque “Leif Erikson” from the same album.
It was during “Length of Love,” off 2004’s Antics that the show really began to pick up. Drummer Sam Fogarino played with such vitality; it was as if his intentions were to break his kit, especially during “My Desire” from the new album. He pounded hard and heavy.
From my angle I couldn’t really see guitarist Daniel Kesller, but he sounded right on point. Everyone did, even the new guys helping out — though the new bassist had a not-so discreet cheat sheet handy. The drumming and Banks’ signature monotone vocals reverberated incredibly off the glass surroundings. At one point, while everyone clapped in unison during “Narc,” it felt as if the windows were going to give.
The band played one other song from El Pintor, the dance-y first single “All the Rage Back Home.” The rest of the set was uber-nostalgic and it, sadly, ended too quickly. Though not before riffing into “Not Even Jail” off of Antics. What a highlight it was hearing Banks belt it out in that room. Alas, they didn’t even get to the scheduled last song, which should have been “PDA” (see setlist below). I guess I can always make it out to this week’s show at the Bowery Ballroom. Oh wait, it’s sold out, and oh, it’s not the effing MET!!!
Critical Bias: Paul Banks was my second sexual awakening (Slash was my first).
Overheard: “How precious,” some lady said at the end of the show when Banks and Fogarino hugged it out.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 3, 2014