Live Review

Paul Banks, Sound Control, Manchester

He sounds like Eeyore trying to crack a joke at a birthday party.

The last time Paul Banks was in Manchester, he was headlining the 3,500-capacity Apollo with Interpol. Tonight, he plays to a sold-out crowd of 500 at the Sound Control in support of latest solo offering, ‘Banks’.

If anyone’s apprehensive about seeing Banks minus his bandmates, they needn’t have worried: a Paul Banks gig has all the hallmarks of an Interpol show. Moody lighting, deadpan vocal delivery - and the album has some great songs to boot. It’s a pleasure to hear some of the more interesting sounds recreated live through a sharp use of effects pedals.

An obvious highlight comes in the form of ‘Paid For That’, where a cacophonous clash of duelling guitars eventually ensues, and Banks adopts the persona of a beast ripping up rags in his ivory tower, roaring ‘Don’t you see I have to pay for that? I paid for that, I paid for that / And now you’ll pay me back.’ Elsewhere in the set, he shows off a calm pop sensibility with more melody on show, but no less dry wit. On ‘I’ll Sue You’, he leads a chorus for the new-age litigants, and on ‘Young Again’, he sounds like Eeyore trying to crack a joke at a birthday party, musing ‘I am young again. Thanks a lot.’

Not known for being a showman, the best we get in banter tonight is him thanking the crowd after finishing a song, and shouting out to support, San Diego’s The Neighbourhood, who boldly channelled their hip-hop-with-guitars earlier in the night.

Banks closes the main set with ‘Summertime Is Coming’ in the bleak Manchester winter, which falls as delicately as snowflakes on attentive ears. Whether it’s because of his solo performance, his ‘other job’, or a combination of both, it’s no surprise he’s charmed back for an encore.

What he lacks in spontaneity and charisma, Paul Banks makes up in providing a live performance that recreates the soundscape of his latest record so well. Throughout his trademark vocals are unshakeable. Sometimes it is about the music and not the man.

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