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Live Review: Interpol, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets

7 January 2019 | 2:45 pm | Madison Thomas

A beautiful, powerful performance.

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St Kilda is in flux. Having dropped from 40 degrees to 20 degrees within an hour, freezing punters huddle out the front of the Palais Theatre. Scooting through the gorgeous upstairs bar, the briefest of moments is allowed to take in the serene beauty of the old theatre before Psychedelic Porn Crumpets enter wordlessly. Immediately cranking out swirling, stadium sized riffs that fill each corner of the cavernous room, they’re certainly the antithesis of Interpol’s crisp suit and tie look. Playing hard-edged psych rock with starry harmonies; they win the crowd over with both their music and cheery onstage banter. 

Interpol walk onto the old stage and begin what is possibly one of the most beautiful, powerful performances this reviewer has ever had the pleasure to witness. The stage lighting is dark, designed to veil the band as much as possible. As they open with Pioneer To The Falls, there is indeed the eerie feeling that Interpol are the house band for a post apocalyptic prom. The song moves in sparkling waves courtesy of the marriage between Paul Banks’ vocals, and Daniel Kessler’s elegant guitar. 

The audience break from their trance as the familiar jarring guitar introduction to C’mere rings out. Helmed by Kessler’s balletic guitar playing (indeed his red socks seem to break the unspoken all black everything stage-wear rule employed by the band), Banks’ vocals sear a deep longing into the song. Banks himself seems somehow lighter, more at ease with being on stage this time around. His vocals are smooth and on point and he smiles as he acknowledges the audience.  

Enough cannot be said for Sam Fogarino’s spectacular work behind the drumkit tonight. His drums rumble the gut during If You Really Love Nothing, and help find the knife-edge balance between delicate sparsity and peak hour crowding on Public Pervert

Roland has even the most restrained audience member shouting along at the top of their lungs, with a few air guitars thrown in for good measure, while Complications signals a mass beer run. This has less to do with the quality of the song, and more to do with the desperation of thirsty punters.

“Thanks a lot for coming out tonight everybody, it’s been a while for us,” smiles Banks before launching into Say Hello To The Angels. One upstairs punter shoots out of her seat as if she has been shocked and dances with all her might as Fogarino’s drums explode around her like fireworks. 

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NYC is a standout, with Banks’ haunting vocals howling through the song like a cold wind. The lyrics “I know you’ve supported me for a long time/Somehow I’m not impressed” hang in the air, before Kessler’s guitar envelopes the theatre again. Slow Hands is a bouncy singalong, leaving punters on their feet wanting more. Despite Melbournians being notoriously impatient for encores (many a time a band has had to sheepishly reappear to a smattering of applause), tonight is a different matter as the sounds of clapping, cheering and stomping reverberate through the room. 

Reappearing from the darkness, Brad Truax thunks out possibly the most famous bass riff in indie rock history as Banks airily croons "Rosemary, heaven restores you in life”. Evil is a relentless, pounding few minutes that leaves raw vocal chords and sweaty foreheads in its wake. Closer Obstacle 1 has the few in the audience left unscathed by Evil gasping for breath. It is a sinister spiderweb of a song that is impossible to resist being tangled in. 

Interpol’s tight, angular sound fits like a sharp suit, but there is an ease, a comfortability in their on stage presence tonight that leaves the Palais and its inhabitants quaking. From the lighting design, to the band’s performance itself, it is difficult to think of a more cohesive, beautifully performed, endlessly gorgeous show in recent memory. It’s a hall of fame show that will be remembered by this writer for a long time to come.