It was a gorgeous evening to be out and about in Cincinnati last night, and if you were one of the many strolling around The Banks, you might have heard Bad Habit outside the Moerlein Lager House covering classic ‘80s and ‘90s hits. But if you made your way down into the Andrew J. Brady Music Center, you would have been treated to the sounds of Spoon and Interpol mixing it up with their own hits dating back to the late ‘90s and stretching to their own latest releases — Spoon’s Lucifer on the Sofa (2022) and Interpol’s The Other Side of Make-Believe (2022).
Now, readers of this review will agree there is no real competition (or at least a very clear winner) in a battle of the bands that pits Bad Habit against Spoon and Interpol. What could be up for debate, however, is whether or not there should be a clear headliner in this co-headlining tour featuring two of the great alt-rock bands of the early- and mid-2000s.
There is little to distinguish the bands in any sort of hierarchy of commercial success, critical acclaim, or prestige in general. And they are a good pairing, with enough musical similarities that the Venn diagram of their fans creates a solid overlap resembling the shape of a waxing gibbous moon. In their show at the AJB, Spoon took the role of direct support while Interpol closed out the show, but I'd like to make the case that those roles could easily be reversed.
Spoon came out and rocked Cincinnati for 70+ minutes of feel-good fan favorites like “The Beast and the Dragon,” “Do I Have to Talk You Into It,” and new track “The Hardest Cut.” Britt Daniel paraded around the stage with the confidence (if not the theatrics) of Mick Jagger, and more than once dropped to his knees to shred on guitar. And the crowd nearly lost their minds when the band played a delightfully piano-forward version of their unquestioned top hit “The Underdog.” All this interspersed with brief moments of Britt’s musings, including shout-outs to the band’s early days playing Cincinnati landmarks like Sudsy Malone’s and Bogart’s.
Definitely the more art-rockers of the two bands, Interpol claimed a very static stage presence, never straying from their spots, dressed all in black, and shrouded in fog and back-lighting. Banks had little to say between songs other than the occasional “thank you” or announcement of a song title. The band also seemed to be plagued (to my ear) by overblown guitars and under-amplified vocals.
That said, they still put on a great show. Musically, Interpol proves to be great live performers and they didn’t skimp on the hits, playing favorites like “Evil,” “Narc,” “All the Rage Back Home,” and closing out on “Slow Hands.”
Interpol is a deserving headliner in their own right. But on the Lights, Camera, Factions tour, Spoon is proved they could have taken the slot.