Interpol, Elefant

Alex Worsnip 13/09/2004

In support of new album 'Antics', Interpol returned to London to play a special gig organised by XFM, and specifically, the man who helped launch their UK success, XFM's immortal DJ and guru John Kennedy. They were due to play the larger Scala a few days later, but tonight it is the tiny ICA which is the venue for the special, limited access show. Needless to say there's a build-up of anticipation. The smart, arty ICA is a contrast to beery indie dives, and it is packed with what quite clearly is the Interpol hardcore. There's goths; people in 80s t-shirts; people with skinny ties in the classic Interpol stylee, and quite normal people who just happen to know every single word.

First, though, come Elefant, fellow New York scenesters and boasting a relatively similar set. They play atmospheric, dark, melodic rock music from their horribly titled album 'Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid'. The singer is uniquely irritating, firstly by his unfeasibly good looks and secondly by his unwavering belief that he is already a huge star. He reaches towards the audience to be adored and touched to somewhat muted response. Their songs range from very listenable to painfully dull, but all have the same sort of thread running through them, and despite some good grooves, it never really engages. They are a relatively forgettable support act on a great night.

Everyone here is for Interpol, however. They play in typically stoic style, utterly absorbed by the atmosphere of their music. Dressed darkly and smartly with low, atmospheric lighting, their whole presence reflects almost precisely. Opening with the utterly brilliant 'Obstacle 1', they immediately throw themselves into their own intensity. New songs sound solid if not yet lovable, particularly the wonderfully angular 'Evil', and the faster songs such as 'PDA' inspire a frenzy of pogoing. To say they ripped through the set would be misleading; every song is played with feeling but not overt passion; at record speed and in the same style, controlled, precise and perfect. Nevertheless, there's something about being surrounded by the music and overwhelmed by the sights and sounds that nevertheless makes Interpol something truly special live - an experience.