with School of Seven Bells
House of Blues, Orlando, FL • April 30, 2011
What is it about Orlando that NYC’s Interpol finds so irresisitble that they return to her year after year, tour after tour? Perhaps it’s the level of loyalty their southeastern fans offer them, because even though the group has played this town almost annually since the start of their swim up the stream of success over a decade ago, their most recent date with O-town easily filled the House of Blues once more.
The 2011 edition of Interpol’s journey to the land of Mouse was more like a double date, with the subtle yet angelic sounds of School of Seven Bells opening our appetites for the main course. Theirs is a sound that is slow burning, and admittedly, if I hadn’t already fallen in love with their albums prior to the show, I may have lost interest in their soft dreamscapes after a few minutes and wandered off to the bar, as some virgin listeners did.
Overheard after the set:
Girl 1: Did School of Seven Bells play already?
Girl 2: Yeah. You didn’t miss much.
As it were, I was not a fickle wanderer, but a transfixed attendee. Alejandra Deheza (vocals and guitar) and Benjamin Curtis (guitar and vocals), the core of the band who are joined by a drummer onstage, may not offer up much in the way of visual antics, but the music they make is nothing short of spectacular. Deheza, petite and pixie-like with a voice that could win the hearts of warlords, twirls her hands and her black hair hypnotically while former Secret Machines guitarist Curtis concentrates on the sonic fuzz and swirling melodies that he creates.
For the course of the short time they had to fill our ears, they slipped “Babelonia,” “Windstorm,” “ILU,” and the goose bump-inducing “Half Asleep” into the heads and hearts of those awake enough to listen. Wrapping up their set with the 11-minute ethereal epic poem of melody and chaos “Sempiternal/Amaranth” was a bold move, one that they pulled off effortlessly.
Equally as effortless is this, and any, Interpol performance. They make precision look so simple.
Lit up a little brighter than shows past — it appears as though singer/guitarist Paul Banks has officially accepted his role as Front Man and embraced the white light — the trio that stands as Interpol these days (Banks, guitarist Daniel Kessler, and drummer Sam Fogarino) were joined by yet another new bassist and a second drummer. The second drummer seemed a little excessive and unnecessary, but the extra umph on the beats was quite nice, regardless.
The night’s enchanted sounds were light on new material — a plus considering the just so-so nature of the group’s most recent, self titled, disc — save for a few obligatory pluggings that highlighted the album’s brighter tunes, “Success” and “Lights.” The bulk of the bounty was made up of the first two albums, which, in all honesty, are the albums that we all have on our playlists. They hit all of the Turn on the Bright Lights, and Antics hotspots, playing just about all of their most popular. When they branched out onto their under-appreciated third album Our Love to Admire, it was to remind the fans of just what strong songs “Heinrich Maneuver” and “Rest My Chemistry” are.
Assisted by Banks’ newfound strength as the Face of the band — he was cracking smiles left and right and stepping into the light rather than running for the shadows — Interpol landed yet another flawless, though coolly distant, performance. A little more warmth from these guys would be nice, as would a little more spontaneity. Flawless is hard to achieve, but inspired is the real goal and they’ve yet to hit that mark. Maybe next year.