“Fuckin’ L.A.,” Interpol singer-guitarist Paul Banks exclaimed as he looked out at the thousands of people who had gathered on Saturday night (Sept. 30) at L.A. State Historic Park for the band’s sold-out show celebrating the 15th anniversary of debut album Turn On the Bright Lights. The original trio — Banks, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino — were smartly dressed, backlit by an impressive number of stage lights.
It was a momentous occasion for the band, who had emerged in the early aughts, when New York City was seen as the epicenter of a burgeoning music scene. But few have retained their relevance the way Interpol successfully has been able to. Turn On the Bright Lights, even 15 years later, still impresses with its nuance and depth, from the quiet guitar introduction of “The New” to the sharp and insistent beat of “Obstacle 1.” Without question, the album has held up incredibly well over time, and the crowd’s mix of both young and older fans, all of whom knew the lyrics of every song, perfectly demonstrates the album’s continuing influence.
Reflecting upon this, Banks remarked, “So beautiful to be here with all of you … and this record, our first record.” This was the extent of the reminiscing, as Interpol proceeded to perform the album in order with minimal dialogue. Although the set list was known ahead of time, fans still screamed with excitement upon hearing the opening notes of each track. Case in point: The guitar-driven intro of “Say Hello to Angels” had people in a visible fervor that broke into spastic dancing once Banks’ speedy vocal delivery was added to the mix.
Because the audience had the album memorized, it was a veritable sing-along throughout the night. For instance, as Banks sang the opening lines of “Obstacle 2” — “I’m going to pull you in close / I’m going to wrap you up tight” — his words were echoed throughout the park. Seemingly to further emphasize the album’s title, the stage’s wall of lights were indeed bright — and often directed toward the audience. During “NYC,” when Banks sang, “Turn on the bright lights,” the stage lights flooded the crowd.
When Interpol finished “Leif Erickson,” the last track on the album, Banks announced, “That was Turn On the Bright Lights.” He then added, “So there was a song that almost was on Bright Lights,” introducing “The Specialist,” which originally appeared on Interpol’s self-titled EP and later was released on a Bright Lights reissue in 2005. The single clearly held a special place in the hearts of many fans, who exploded in excitement. Some screamed, “Fuck yeah, fuck yeah!”
The encore touched upon the most beloved tracks from the rest of the band’s catalog, from 2004’s Antics (“Not Even Jail,” “Slow Hands,” “Evil”) to 2010’s self-titled (“Lights”) and 2014’s El Pintor (“All the Rage Back Home”). When Interpol performed Our Love to Admire’s “The Heinrich Maneuver,” the introductory line — “How are things on the West Coast” — received an especially enthusiastic reaction from the L.A. crowd.
As the night neared its conclusion, Banks introduced “Evil” by saying, “This is going to be our last song. You have been fucking awesome. And we love you.” To which fans audibly shouted, “Nooooo,” demanding more songs. However, Banks promised, “We’ll see you soon.” Those four words could hint at a possible new album or perhaps a more extensive tour, but for now, fans were satiated with the overall brilliance of the night, reliving what the record meant to them 15 years ago.
“Say Hello to the Angels”
“Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down”
“Not Even Jail”
“All the Rage Back Home”
“The Heinrich Maneuver”