Wednesday, 10 February 2010

596 INTERPOL, British Sea Power, London Shepherd's Bush Empire, Wednesday 24 June 2003

Nothing better on my birthday than having a gig to go to, and there were plenty in London to choose from. However, we'd already gotten tix for this one before the clashing REM and Longwave gigs were announced, so we stuck with it - REM sold out in moments anyway! So Rachel picked me up from work and, after a good run, we parked at the Bush at 7, getting KFC picnic tea on Shepherd's Bush Green before hitting this old theatre venue and taking our circle seats early. Good view!

An intriguing new band supported - British Sea Power, all chunky socks, tin hats and tree branches adorning the stage. After 3 songs I'd written them off as a sub-Coral early Bunnymen rip-off with a bad vocalist (the second number in particular sounding exactly like the Bunnymen's "Crocodiles"), but then the guitarist took over vocal chores for a surprisingly affecting number which recalled the atmospherics of Kitchens Of Distinction, and thus was far and away the best number of the set. Things picked up thereafter, actually, with a bit more originality, whilst retaining the Bunny similarities in their edgy spookiness, which left me wanting to check them out at Reading this year. A set of two halves, indeed!

We knew what to expect from Interpol, following their dark, brooding Joy Division-esque debut CD "Turn On The Bright Lights", and they did not disappoint. From the stark, bare stage set up to the black suits, through to the mesmeric and melancholy music, led by the metronomic fretwork of guitarist and mainman, the impressively-sideburned Daniel Kessler, their set was an exercise in precise, studied atmospherics and effortless cool. Vocalist Paul Banks' haunting baritone even recalled Ian Curtis at times, as their dark little songs, more together and dynamic than the occasionally fragile CD versions, created a chilling atmosphere, and was rapturously received by this sell-out crowd. More than any of their contemporaries, NYC's Interpol seem well equipped to develop into larger venues, although it'll be interesting to hear how their next album progresses their notably derivative sound. All in all, though, an impressive set and a perfect way to spend my 38th birthday! Also, a quick sprint home saw us back by midnight!

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