Monday, January 20, 2003

Interpol rocks as good band with good songs

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The scene befitted the music. Five young men sported black suits, geometric hairdos and expressionless faces. Behind them, four crisscrossing floodlights shot from stage to ceiling, conjuring up not the Americana image of a car dealership but instead a Bauhaus vision. It was certainly European.

Interpol, positioned currently as the-band-of-the-moment: alternative-rock-division, certainly has both its musical and visual retro indulgences, which were on display Friday night at the Southgate House. Although Interpol might not be as groundbreaking as, say, Joy Division or the Smiths, the songs on their Matador Records debut Turn on the Bright Lights would be considered classics of that era had they been released 20 years ago, and today they're receiving the attention they deserve.

The show, an hour long with its focus on Bright Lights, was a sellout. Perhaps Paul Banks' faux-Brit singing voice and Daniel Kessler and Mr. Banks' expanding and contracting guitar sounds projected a certain sedating gloominess.

Whatever sadness was implied in songs like "NYC" and "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down" was secondary to the fact that Interpol is a talented band with good songs.

Calla, also from New York, and Cincinnati's own Mallory opened the show, each doing 40-minute sets. Mallory - Jim Cunningham, Dan Heier and Mathew Arnold - has established itself as one of the top rock bands in town on the strength of the John Curley-engineered debut The First One Hundred Years. And their live shows are as dynamic as the album.


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