A year ago, Interpol was caught up in the buzz-band circle, playing a two-night run at the Troubadour to support its Matador debut, “Turn on the Bright Lights.” Since then they’ve garnered not just significant critical acclaim but an impressive audience as well: Many of the twentysomethings who packed the cavernous Palladium dressed, as the band does, in all-black suits. But that just underscored the band’s style-over-substance attitude, a weakness that unfortunately makes its way through much of the group’s ’80s-leaning, goth-influenced material.
The band is much more poised and confident than when they were touring in smaller clubs; all five members have become quite comfortable with the space offered them on a big stage. Even usually meek and reserved singer Paul Banks was a bit more animated than usual — which meant that he occasionally took a step back rather than remain completely sedentary. He did take time to thank the band’s lighting man, who was leaving the tour after this show; his washed-out yellows and deep-hued blues underscored the dramatic tension throughout.
The tension comes from a distinctly disconnected approach to songwriting and performance, an attribute more likely to be associated with an electronic artist than a rock band. In many ways, Interpol songs are like anonymous dance music without a driving beat: Many of them coast on atmosphere and drama, with an eerily sexy inhuman quality that makes them hard to hate — or love.