Julian Plenti is the alter-ego of Interpol guitarist, singer and songwriter Paul Banks. Equipped with a full band (including a magnificent cellist) and a new record hot off the press in Julian Plenti…Is Skyscraper, this was the second date of a short european tour. With an album barely pushing the half hour mark and only one other UK date under his belt (plus the fact that he was never going to play an Interpol tune – which I agree with) this was always going to be a short and sweet show, and I was prepared for this. It didn’t matter though, Julian Plenti has, err…plenty…of talent, and an album without a single duff tune. What makes it is the cello. I have no idea how the cellist is able to play that amazing riff in Unwind so perfectly without setting fire to his hands, but by gosh it’s good. Exceptionally good.
My friend, Mr. Urban Tea Party and I had been looking forward to this show for months, and I must confess as good as they were I was still left a bit cold. For starters, it was quiet. Really quiet. I’m not sure if this was a technical issue, a deliberate decision or just down to a crappy sound engineer, but it was nowhere near loud enough. We were stood right near the front speakers and hardly had to raise our voices to speak. Secondly, the crowd (what crowd there was anyway – the gig was bumped down to Academy 4 from Academy 2, presumably due to lack of ticket sales) had that typical Manchester complex of being unimpressed. Most people were just stood with their arms folded. Such a shame.
Perhaps I was in too much of an energetic mood from the glühwein before the show and ready to ‘ave it, perhaps the audience were boring. Perhaps it was because it was a Wednesday and most people have proper jobs (thankfully, I’m not a slave to the punch in-punch out 9-5 life quite yet). Probably a combination of the lot.
All in all, Julian Plenti was magnificent and I really respect Mr. Banks for not selling this record on the back of being ‘the guy from Interpol’ but starting from scratch. The gig itself was just let down by other factors beyond his control.
PS – Apologies for the crappy mobile phone shot. Blame Matador Records for being harder to get in touch with than the head of MI6.