Since the early 2000s, Interpol has been a shining light in the heart of New York City. The band put its name on the map with debut album “Turn on the Bright Lights,” released in 2002. After 9/11, the city was looking for a revival — and Interpol provided some answers. Their raw, warm tunnel-of-darkness soundscape turned the formed NYU pupils into internationally-renowned rockstars.
In August of last year, Interpol released their 6th studio album “Marauder.” The album met positive reviews, demonstrating the band’s ability to retain relevance without undermining their creativity. Lead singles off the album, “The Rover” and “If You Really Love Nothing,” have quickly become new fan-favorites. The tour for the album began in late August of 2018, but the band is still checking off locations on the map over a year later. On September 4, Interpol graced the stage of the Jefferson.
The venue filled up gradually and quietly. By the time the band started around 8:45 p.m., the pit was comfortably crowded. A scan of the room revealed an unsurprising demographic — young-and-middle-aged white adults, tattoos and Docs. Buzzing, wired conversations amongst friends and strangers carried the room through its 45 minute wait between promised showtime and actual showtime. The prolonged delay contained a mix of enthusiasm and agitation. At some point, many mistook a sound check guy for guitarist Daniel Kessler — turned out he was just another skinny white guy with long hair. When the band finally emerged, cathartic sighs of relief echoed elated cheers.
Interpol’s concert set lists tend to be pretty hefty — performing around 20 songs in an approximately 90 minute set. Wednesday night at the Jefferson was no different. The band kicked the night off with the grandiose “Pioneer to the Falls,” the first track off of the band’s third studio album “Our Love to Admire.” Lead-guitarist Daniel Kessler strummed away a few opening chords, and the song burst into its totality. Aside from an almost debilitating strobe lights arrangement, the performance was stellar. The tone for the rest of the night was set. Interpol — even 20 years after their debut — are cool, calm and commanding.
The band’s stage presence — much like the band’s protracted aesthetic — was detached, lackadaisical and effortlessly cool. Frontman Paul Banks, wearing his sunglasses and full tuxedo, did not have much to say between songs. A simple, nonchalant “thanks” marked the end of each song. If he really liked the performance, he reminded the audience of the name of the song they just performed. On paper, it sounds incredibly boring, but in practice, it was undeniably suave.
The unquestionable highlight of the night was the band’s performance of “The New,” the penultimate track off of the band’s set-in-stone classic “Turn On the Bright Lights.” When the opening chords were played, all phones and cameras seemed to disappear. The energy in the room felt like an angst-laden millennial church sermon, with Paul Banks as the pastor. The two-minute instrumental passage that closes the track was transcendental, as if the sermon had just brought the audience right to God’s doorstep.
Interpol played through a lot of their classic tracks — “PDA,” “All the Rage Back Home,” “Evil” and others appeared throughout their set. A few newer tracks trickled in here and there, but it was obvious that the crowd’s appetite veered closer to “Turn on the Bright Lights” deep cuts than new “Marauder” tracks. After around an hour and 15 minutes, the band said their goodbyes — but not a single person in the crowd turned to leave. Either everyone in the crowd knew they would not leave without hearing “Obstacle 1,” or everyone looked up their set list beforehand and saw they always do a three-song encore.
And to no one’s surprise, the band returned to the stage after a few hanging minutes. They opened their encore with a harrowing, dark rendition of “Untitled,” the monumental opening track off their debut album. They closed their encore with “Obstacle 1,” one of the band’s most loved and successful songs. On the gorgeous closing bridge, Banks belts “she puts the weight,” audibly paralleled by every voice in the crowd. The song ends, Banks thanks the crowd — but this time, further thanks them for coming out. They turn off the bright lights and they exit.