Despite the rumblings of new music on their horizon, Los Angeles noise terrorists HEALTH stick largely to the same script tonight in the Olympia Theatre as the last time State caught them. That was almost two years ago at Forbidden Fruit and though they were ensconced in a tent, pervading sunlight and general mid-afternoon festival ambience proved distracting. Tonight, in darker confines, they shine resolute.
As is generally the case with HEALTH, they flit between avant-garde curio and sharp connecting force, peppering their allotted 40 minutes or so with military-style percussion, discordant soundscapes and beautiful bursts of sonic seduction. ‘USA Boys’, the kind of track you’d expect to find on an early ’90s rave cassette, is tremendous fun, while glimpses of new material are tantalising, ‘Eat Flesh’ terrifically unnerving and ‘Die Slow’ goddamn glorious. Content to be neither one thing nor the other, HEALTH remain the soundtrack to the best film you’ve never seen.
Rolling into Dublin for a three-night stand off the back of rave reviews for their European shows thus far, it feels like Interpol have both everything and nothing to prove, if that makes sense. Latest album El Pintor has been largely acclaimed but are fans over the departure of bassist Carlos D yet? Apparently, that would be a resounding ‘yes’. His absence isn’t really felt outside of the blithering idiot next to me who feels the need to keep screaming his name in between her repeated proclamations that frontman Paul Banks is a ‘ride’. Fun. Touring bassist Brad Truax proves his own distraction, sporting lank hair, leather jacket and jeans, thus resembling a splice of 1999 Triple H and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. It’s quite the contrast to Daniel Kessler on the other end of the stage, sharpest motherfucker in town, rocking a suit like we all wish we could. But hey, this ain’t a fashion show. If it were, Sam Fogarino would take top honours for his glasses alone.
Tonight, the drummer is a man possessed, occasionally moving a tad too quickly but never losing time or his cool. Interpol in microcosm; cool, tight, apparently effortless. The New York trio (a five-piece this evening with the presence of Truax and Brandon Curtis from Secret Machines on keys) deliver the best kind of set from a band with decent history to call upon, mixing in select cuts from the album they’re here to promote alongside a healthy smattering of fan favourites. ‘Say Hello To The Angels’ makes for a note-perfect opener, crowd instantly rabid, returning heroes hailed to the heavens. And so it goes; 90 minutes of expert preaching to the converted with little pause for ceremony, a freight train powered by bright lights and bracing tremolo guitar lines.
‘Anywhere’, ‘My Blue Supreme’ and ‘My Desire’ are taken care of early with a rousing ‘Evil’ (lapped up, of course) and a stunning ‘The New’ sandwiched in between, the latter captivating long before the Joey Santiago-esque guitar kicks in. It’s a set of many highlights; Kessler clicking his fingers in the middle of ‘Pioneer to the Falls’, Fogarino’s excited drumming on ‘Slow Hands’, a powerful take of ‘Breaker 1’. ‘Lights’, coupled with, er, relentless strobe lights, is positively mesmeric as Banks and co ‘do a National’ and go that little bit harder in a live setting. On the other hand, a couple of tracks you expect to soar fall somewhat flat. ‘My Blue Supreme’ is fine and nothing more while ‘All The Rage Back Home’ is as strangely muted as it was when aired on Jools Holland a few months back. Nonetheless, the closing bow breathes new life. A two-part encore brings a winsome ‘NYC’, the punch of ‘PDA’ and, finally, gracefully, ‘Untitled’. There’s no ‘Obstacle 1’ but there’s no complaints, no real need. Daniel Kessler bids farewell, offering polite thanks and the humility of a man who knows that tonight he and his charges were at the very top of their game.
Interpol photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko.