After a well received support slot from fellow Brooklynites I’m In You, a five-piece rock band take to the stage sporting leftover movember -taches. With the exception of an added cellist, the band look like any other rock outfit. But this is Julian Plenti a.k.a. Paul Banks a.k.a. yer man from Interpol. Banks has won over critics and fans with the release of Julian Plenti is ‘¦ Skyscraper and though the album is an unabashed success the unavoidable comparisons to the powerhouse that is Interpol the live show is another matter entirely.
The opening track is an odd choice; it’s not one off the album but rather an instrumental version of J. Dilla’s -Mythsysizer’, a nod to his other moniker as hip-hop DJ Fancypants. It may be unfamiliar to most but it’s an impressive start followed swiftly by the stomping -Fly As You Might’.
Banks has a distinctive voice; his powerful baritone carries the weightiest of Interpol songs. Maybe it’s the smaller venue or perhaps its the lighter material but tonight his vocal seems more relaxed, more textured. The last time he met an Irish audience this small was nearly nine years ago in the same venue, HQ as it was known then, and the intimacy suits him. The appreciative banter between songs is warmly welcomed. His accent is complex, born in the UK, raised in Michigan and schooled in Mexico, Banks speaks with politest American country drawl. He doesn’t actually say ‘Ma’am’ at any point but you’d imagine he would under the right circumstances.
-No Chance Survival’ is dark, nuanced with shimmering, gothic cello and -The Fun That We Have’ had some chunky power chords ricocheting off the walls. The band were as tight as any that have been together years. Guitarist Damien Paris (from The Giraffes) is a brimming live wire, bouncing around the stage like a gleeful Crazy Frog during their cover of The Pixies‘ -Into The White’ with its wandering bass and intuitive drumming. However the cellist stole the show by somehow making trumpet sounds, yes, trumpet sounds on -Girl on the Sporting News’. Whatever effects these guys were using they managed to replace harpsichord, piano and even xylophone with the strings they had to hand. -Madrid Song’ seems to have changed form with samples and droney guitar. In fact, the album as a whole is showcased in a different light, injected with energy.
The more delicate numbers like -On The Esplanade’ were engrossing; pastoral with chiming guitars. But title track ‘Skyscraper’ is a definite highlight. It is a living breathing beast of a song, haunting and epic, Banks chose well by returning to his pre-Interpol days and finishing what he started all those years ago. And the audience aren’t shy about letting him know so. Visibly overwhelmed Julian Plenti closes the set with new song -Goodbye Toronto’, another jumpy, punch drunk rock song with an acapella excerpt from the seasonal classic -Let It Snow’. Rarely did Interpol come to mind and only then it was favourably. With an encore that included ‘H’, which played live is Mogwai-esque post-rock with a spaghetti-western vibe, a faithful cover of America’s -Horse With No Name’ and finally a reverb-heavy -Games for Days’ riling the crowd, Banks left the stage with the lights up and a lot more Friends of Plenti.