Paul Banks was certainly the crowd favorite at the Julian Plenti show at Chop Suey on Monday night. Although there were cheers of “I love you, Paul” throughout the set, the musicians Banks brought in to back his solo project were certainly no slouches (particularly the bassist and cellist, whose names this writer was unfortunately unable to find).
As it was an all-ages show, those of the audience who wanted to imbibe were relegated to the back bar. This did not make for easy listening, as even listeners who vocally proclaimed their love for Paul Banks talked through most of the band’s dreamier songs, particularly “No Hiding Place” and “On the Esplanade”.
Julian Plenti opened with “Fly as You Might”, a hypnotic tune dominated by Banks’ baritone that set the mood for the rest of the show. The band picked up the pace with an extremely tight rendition of “Fun That We Have”. The band was clearly having fun with its fourth song, “Unwind”, as the guitarists and drummer let loose during the chorus. Paul Banks gave his usual deadpan delivery throughout “Girl on the Sporting News”, as he crooned I just want to tell you one thing/you’ve got the kind of sex appeal/that doesn’t get a guy like me down.
The best song of the night was perhaps “Only if You Run,” as guitar, cello, and bass provided layers and layers of sound that filled up the room. This song brought the musicians together as Julian Plenti, rather than as Paul Banks and his backing band.
Julian Plenti did its best to appease the crowd’s hopes for an Interpol-themed encore with “Games for Day”, a fast-paced song that easily could have been on the third Interpol album. The song’s abrupt close was greeted by uproars from the crowd.
Here’s the track “Fun That We Have” off Julian Plenti’s recent album Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper, out now on Matador Records.