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Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Interpol [2015]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Interpol live at Bluesfest 2015

Artist: Interpol
When: July 18, 2015
Where: Claridge Homes stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Lebreton Flats Park, Ottawa
Context: I had been following this New York-based indie rock band for well over a decade by the time 2015 rolled around. Interpol were easily my preferred out of all the post-punk revivalists and their first two records are still among my favourite of the 2000s. Founding bassist, Carlos Dengler had left the band five years prior (in 2010) but the remaining trio of Paul Banks (vocals, guitar), Daniel Kessler (guitars), and Sam Fogarino (drums)* were still (and still are) very much a going concern. In fact, they had just put out “El pintor” the previous year, perhaps their best album in a decade. After initial a wave here and a smile there, pleasantries dispensed, they started in like gangbusters, a sonic assault of angular guitars and booming basslines, and Paul Banks’ iconic deep vocals, often lying in wait in the weeds and layers of synths. It was a powerful set and loud, mixing new and old seamlessly. Interestingly, they went to the well of 2004’s “Antics” quite often, digging out favourites like “Narc”, “Evil”, “Take you on a cruise”, “C’mere”, “Not even jail”, and finishing off the whole works with “Slow hands”. I especially appreciated the passionate and crazed rendition of recent single, “All the rage back home”, a personal favourite. I think my only critique of the set was that at around fifty minutes, partially due to an act finishing up late on the other stage, it all felt way too short. Still, Interpol!!!!

Point of reference song: All the rage back home

Sam Fogarino of Interpol
Daniel Kessler of Interpol
Paul Banks of Interpol
Brandon Curtis and Brad Truax, touring members
Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, and Sam Fogarino

*They were joined on stage by touring bassist Brad Truax and Brandon Curtis (formerly of Secret Machines) on keys.

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Tunes

Best tunes of 2003: #25 The Stills “Still in love song”

<< #26    |    #24 >>

“We were lovers
We were kissers
We were holders of hands
We were make believers
Just losing time”

The four original members of Montreal’s The Stills – vocalist and guitarist Tim Fletcher, guitarist Gregory Paquet, bassist Olivier Corbeil, and drummer Dave Hamelin – met when they were all still teenagers. Each performed in various bands prior to forming The Stills in 2000 and perhaps because of these previous experiences, they quickly gained a following based on their heavy duty live show. They finally released their debut album, “Logic will break your heart”, late in 2003 to critical acclaim*, earning favourable comparisons to Echo & the Bunnymen and fellow post-punk revivalists Interpol. They would go on to release two further albums before amicably splitting up in 2011. The band’s members continue to work in the industry, in other bands, and doing session or production work for other great Canadian acts.

It’s unfortunate to me that the quartet didn’t have more success and longevity, given the promise of their outstanding debut. I remember being super excited when I first heard “Logic will break your heart”, right around the time that I heard “Turn on the bright lights”. I admit that I didn’t feel the same way about those latter albums but that original excitement never waned and I often found myself putting on the debut when I felt the urge to be dark and sombre and angsty.

The third single off that debut would forever remain my favourite by the quartet. “Still in love song” can be universally understood by all but those who have never had a love crushed by someone over whom that person chose someone else, a career, or whatever other passion.

“And you said you’d rather live in TV land
Than say that you care
But you don’t
That’s heartless and I will not cry”

Musically, the tune is – purely and simply – post punk revival at its best. Sinister, arpeggiating guitars, menacing bassline that won’t quit, punishing and bass heavy drum rhythms, snarling vocals, and all this captured in stasis in a vacuous and hermetically sealed wind tunnel. It’s a song that begs repeat plays, tailor made for ear phones and closed eyes and all sorts of other mopery.

*Discounting, of course, the lambasting they received from Pitchfork.. and I always will.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2020: #27 The Psychedelic Furs “Wrong train”

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The Psychedelic Furs have been around forever. The British post-punk band formed in the late 70s and had a string of hits throughout the 80s. I first picked up on them in the latter part of that decade when I first saw the John Hughes film, “Pretty in pink”, whose title was inspired by one of the band’s early hits and of course, that track was re-recorded for the now iconic soundtrack. When I went through a retro 80s kick in the 90s, I picked up on even more of their tunes and ended up getting a copy of one of their best of compilations on CD but that was as far as I ever delved.

Still, I remember thinking it cool and a little bit funny when my friend Eileen was telling me and my wife a story over beers about how she met up with them at a tiny bar in New York when she was younger. She also laughed because she didn’t know who they were then and still didn’t really know how big they were but clearly remembered their name and that they were a ‘great bunch of kids’.

I also didn’t hesitate to ensure to catch their set when they played my favourite local music festival, Ottawa Bluesfest, a couple of years ago, even though the reformed group hadn’t released any new material since 1991’s “World outside”. I was absolutely rewarded by them playing pretty much all the songs that I knew by them but I was also super impressed by how they really rocked the stage, frontman Richard Butler especially tearing it up with those inimitable lungs of his.

So when I heard a couple of years later that the group had released its first album of new material in nearly thirty years, I was leery and almost gave it a by. As it was, I pressed play on Spotify, fully expecting to skip a few songs and give up the ghost in short order. How wrong I was! “Made of rain” was fresh and raw, full of killer hooks and Butler’s rock and roll vocals.

“I took the wrong train
Ate all the wrong pills
I took a cell phone
To call my voice mail”

Track four on the album is a tune called “Wrong train”, a banger that was actually written by the band way back in 2001, near the beginning of their reunion run. Butler wrote it about his experiences living in the suburbs, a bad time in his life tainted further by his break up with his wife, the domestic life gone awry. It’s the roar and rumble of a commuter train, lost in sleep and dazed in the humdrum of the day, Butler’s voice roaring and soaring above it all, looking down at this daily drudgery like an out of body experience.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.