Colorado went from summer to winter in one momentary movement yesterday (complete with a rainbow early in the day), and, as usual, that season other states call "fall" was skipped altogether. Interpol's show at the Ogden Theatre couldn't have been a more perfect way to usher in the next manic season -- whipping winds and icy temperatures setting the tone for a devastatingly perfect performance by the quintet.
NYC-by-way-of-Missouri six-piece White Rabbits opened, initiating the show with a dark, energetic intensity. Co-frontmen guitarist Gregory Roberts and pianist Stephen Patterson both pushed hard on their vocals, mouths twisting in unison through songs like "Rudie Fails" and "They Done Wrong, We Done Wrong" while noisy patterns of sound produced from a pile of pedals at Roberts's feet filled the air with a vague chatter and the band's dual drummers pounded alongside each other, heads shaking in concert.
The charming sounds of Patterson's rabid piano butted up nicely against the fullness of the band's electricity, especially on songs like "The Plot," which highlighted the lilting harmonies of the two vocalists. Although White Rabbits' performance was in no way lacking energy, it was hard to tell if their mood was one of detachment or intensity; at times the band felt like it was working more than playing. Regardless, White Rabbits were an excellent introduction to Interpol's frigid performance -- which would come roughly thirty minutes after the Rabbits cleared their own gear from the stage.
The first word spoken from Interpol vocalist Paul Banks cut through the fog with a subtle humor, as his bandmates casually strolled through the dark to take their place in front of the adoring crowd. The group opened with "Success" and barreled between the soft green and blue hues beaming up from the back of the stage, each member carrying a head of well-groomed and greased hair, dressed in black with gentlemanly accoutrements adding little color to their palettes.
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"Say Hello to the Angels" showed the first signs of Banks's possible unease, his sleepy eyes doing what they could to stay alert. It seemed kind of obvious that the frontman was suffering from what may have been a cold or a throat issue. Just the same, he stayed on point for the entire show, not once complaining or even acknowledging being under the weather. "C'mere," "Leif Erikson" and "Summer Well" came and went with an ease of pace, the crowd hanging on each note of Banks's sterile croon.
Lucky for Banks, eyes were also on guitarist Daniel Kessler -- "Rest My Chemistry" and "PDA" showcased his knock-kneed slide and sheepish grin, "Narc" sending him shooting in front of the drum riser, shuffling his feet within the small confines of his side of the stage. Hiding behind a wall of equipment, Kessler's guitar tech was there with him the whole time, feeding him instrument cable and pulling it back like a leash as he moved erratically.
Positioned stage left almost invisibly to the audience, new bassist Dave Bajo was masked by a wall of fog and orange light, but the warmth of his bass lines came flawlessly through with "Untitled." The band began the final descent into the last bits of the set, Banks almost tearfully weathering his condition, keeping a brave face as he coated his throat with something and kept on.
A gracious buildup by Kessler led into "Lights," his guitar and Banks's vocals filling every corner of the venue. "Evil" was a definite crowd-pleaser, eliciting the happiest rumblings from the crowd, followed by "Take You on a Cruise" and the haunting whistle of "Try It On."
As the main set came to a close with "Not Even Jail," Banks gave his last "Thank you," and Kessler waved and pointed gleefully like a politician. Moments later, the encore began with "The Lighthouse," the dramatic, jangled song bringing just Kessler and keyboardist Brandon Curtis out to the stage for an extended introduction before the rest of the band followed. Banks's voice was booming but subtle, hanging on every soft note, colored perfectly by the magenta lighting. The crowd then screamed "Stella!" and Interpol complied with a wonderful version of "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down. "
The finale came with "Slow Hands," the song breathing life into Banks's congested face, the audience now jumping and waving their hands in total satisfaction. The act once again showed its gratitude, with Banks and Kessler pausing to give ear-to-ear smiles and more waves. The show felt like a near perfect success, a nice cold end to an almost winter day.
Click through for Critic's Notebook and Setlist
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I had none. I had no opinion on Interpol to begin with and have never owned an album by them or seen them live before this show. I walked away a convert. Random Detail: I heard someone outside the show describe Interpol's performance as "so legit." I don't know what that means in context to Interpol, but the show was definitely legitimate in some sense. By The Way: Despite being sick, Paul Banks appeared to partake in the after-party. At least that's what I heard.
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Interpol 10.25.10 | Ogden Theatre Denver, CO
01. Success 02. Say Hello to the Angels 03. C'mere 04. Leif Erikson 05. Summer Well 06. Rest My Chemistry 07. PDA 08. Narc 09. Untitled 10. Hands Away 11. Lights 12. Evil 13. Take You on a Cruise 14. Try It On 15. Not Even Jail
16. The Lighthouse 17. Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down 18. Slow Hands