It was a warm day in Melbourne as Daniel Kessler walked the streets with his shopping in one hand, a smart-phone in the other, changing direction at every block, seeming generally confused a to where he was going most of the time. Perhaps it was heat stroke due to making the decision to stroll the streets on a thirty-four-degree day in a suit. A meal and a few beers later, it was time to away to the Palace to see if he’d recovered.

Opening up the evening were Bridezilla, a young Sydney indie outfit who’ve been making waves the last couple years with decent supports and festival appearances across the country. They’re an obvious choice as Interpol openers, with their reverb set to high and their vocals more often than not deadpan in delivery. Initially, one is drawn to their decision to eschew the rock and roll staple of a bass guitar and replace it instead with a saxophone and a violin. It’s not every day you see a young woman thrash a violin relentlessly, however in the context of Bridezilla’s autonomous sound-scaping, “rocking out” seemed utterly unnecessary. It often looked like an odd interpretive dance rather than Daisy Tulley having a good time.

The band strayed away from verse-chorus song structures, instead following the “take one idea, build it in intensity for a few minutes, finish” route for their entire set. *See Interpol’s “Lights” for a decent example of this formula.
Bridezilla could have reconsidered deleting a low end instrument from their sound. Their two guitars, saxophone and violin all sit in the same realm on the sonic-spectrum, and as such when they’re in full swing their sound generally washes over you; like dirty laundry rather than a warm shower.

Their set contained one highlight, with the second last song seeing the drummer finding a decent groove for the song to rest on, which helped the five piece come to life and look as if they were enjoying themselves. It will always be sultry and cute when the four female members of a band step up to their respective microphones and coyly whisper “baby, I know what you want” to the audience. However, it will always be boring if a band has one sound across all its instruments – and across all its songs.

After a thirty minute changeover, it seemed the guitar tech had just put the guitar down before the lights went down and Interpol rushed on to the stage. They opened with ‘Success’, the opener of their self-titled 2010 album. The set was weighted evenly between all four albums rather than focusing primarily on their new material, much to the crowd’s pleasure. And wasn’t the crowd pleased, one would think an Interpol audience would remain stoic in the face of rock and roll, however they were plenty receptive to all the songs, especially hits like ‘Evil’ and ‘Obstacle 1’.

There were a couple of disappointing aspects of the night. The first being only small; it was Paul Banks shying away from belting out the vocal hook in “Barricade”. While it seems like a small gripe (and it is), it’s disheartening when the lead vocalist pawns off his most important moment in the song to Brandon Curtis, their touring keyboardist and BACKING vocalist. This being said, Banks’ vocals were in fine form for the majority of the set. The second disappointing element of the show was the absence of Carlos D. While David Pajo does a flawless job of executing Carlos’ bass riffs, he remains seemingly motionless for the majority of the show. When he’s known for being the most enigmatic presence on stage in a band not known for having much – if any- presence on stage, Carlos’ absence becomes noticeable.

There was another noticeable dynamic to the set, which was surprising. The band seemed absolutely thrilled to be playing. Whereas their recent album sounded like a band feeling lifeless and despondent, their set at the Palace looked and sounded like a band excited to be playing music, which made for an overall enthralling show. Paul Banks’ banter never really left the realm of “thank you”, however every time it was said with a smile from ear to ear. Daniel Kessler was perfecting his rock and roll shuffle dancing for the entire set, whilst Sam Fogarino seemed to be so excited that in songs like “Evil” and “Slow Hands” he found himself speeding up, as if he were a giddy teenager playing his first gig again.

The crowd was extraordinarily receptive all night, and it was something the band seemed surprised by and  appreciative of. Notable highlights throughout the night were the obvious hits like “Evil”, “Lights”, “Mammoth” and “Obstacle 1”.

The encore could have been improved if after “NYC” they swapped “PDA” and “Not Even Jail” around. The night seemed ‘sif it should have ended with Interpol at it’s most uplifting, (with the outro of “PDA” being that to a tee), because that’s how the show was. Which is extraordinary for a band known for being the complete opposite. Paul Banks asserted to the audience that this was the last show of their Australian tour, and they were very gracious that this was the gig with which the tour should end. In one of the surprise highlights of the set, “Memory Serves”, Banks sang “tonight is special”, and it seemed that their show at the Palace was, for Interpol, just that.

-Alastair Matcott

Check out some killer photos from the night here