Best Concerts of Sziget 2017 #1: Interpol

This one probably has the surprise and excitement value of Bayern München winning another Bundesliga title, and as such I did think quite a lot about whether to do it or not and then I decided that I simply must, for this Interpol outing was better than their previous Sziget performance- the quarter to midnight A38 spot seems to do wonders for them. That show, however, had won in a year with possibly stronger competition than this one, so it would have been slightly incongruous not to give them the first spot this time around as well, though of course I have been known to engage in radically more incongruous actions than this.

Fact is, this show felt extra special, given that it was part of the 15 years anniversary tour of Turn on The Bright Lights- a sad side note here: with the present state of Budapest venues it is highly likely that had it not been for Sziget, we would have been gloriously skipped again, as oft happens with bands that are too large for either A38 or Akvárium. But luckily Sziget soldiers on in its 25th year, so it was a beautiful round number for both the band and the festival.

Interpol are not the first band to come up with the idea of playing an entire album song by song- recently, U2 have been doing the same with The Joshua Tree, and that almost inspired me to fly to Berlin just to see them, but then it turned out that they also have bits with new songs in them, and I got very scared. Luckily, Interpol’s bits with new songs sound great too, though during festival outings they are kept to the minimum: the three songs at the beginning were perfect for settling A38’s moody sound system, so by the time they elegantly but decidedly tore into Untitled we were in what could be called a state of flow.

Frequently, there is a slightly jerky quality to Interpol gigs, as if there reigned a state of mild annoyance, a subtle neurosis, which is probably very fitting for someone who left their urge in an icebox, so I never really held that against them. This time around though there was a feeling that in their own refrained way they are very much enjoying playing this album, rediscovering its depths, the magic qualities which made it one of the definitive records of its decade, and one which works perfectly in concert too. I could have even imagined them playing only this album and nothing else, but that would have probably been to short and have people complaining- so there, one of the most aloof indie acts out there loves you and wants you to be happy, what more do you need from life.

Thus, the Interpol-y jerkiness, which should always be there because it is what makes them sound like themselves, is domesticated into a kind of positive tension, which propels the songs along. There’s still some angst, a sprinkling of despair, the occasional disconnect from the world, but there’s also a sort of holy anger, a bit of lust and every now and then Paul looks like he opened the icebox to take his urge out of it. But only for as long as is needed, and makes sense- we need Interpol to be themselves and let us know that it’s alright to be disgruntled and delighted about it.

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