‘This is not an Interpol gig. This is not an Interpol gig. This is not an Interpol gig’. That’s my mantra as I walk towards Sound Control for tonight’s show. I’m on my way to see Paul Banks do a solo gig in support of his latest effort, the simply titled ‘Banks’.

You see, Paul Banks is a bit of a musical hero of mine. I love Interpol, they are one of my favourite bands ever, and Banks is the major reason for this love. I love his voice; I love his penchant for goofy, droll lyrics (‘Her stories are boring and stuff’ being a pretty high up there); hell, I love the whole gloomy aesthetic he’s got going on. But mostly, I love him as a part of Interpol, so I’m slightly apprehensive about this solo outing. His debut album ‘Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper’  has much to admire on it, and the new one has it’s moments, but forgive me, all I’m thinking is ‘will he sing NYC?!’

Well of course he won’t, because this is not an Interpol gig. It’s firmly a Paul Banks gig, and it’s so good that within 30 seconds of the foreboding, mood setting opener ‘Skyscraper’, I’ve forgotten who Interpol are. Bathed mostly in moody red lights, Banks looks relaxed (he’s even sporting a gold sparkly guitar strap), chatting to the crowd between songs (even if it’s only a ‘thank you’ and the name of the tune), and seems genuinely touched at the rapturous reception he’s getting.

The songs from his debut impress the most, with ‘Fun That We Had’s angular, spiky guitars cutting through the mix like a razor sharp Carlos D suit, and Bank’s incredible baritone positively soaring on ‘Fly As You Might’. Everything just sounds bigger and more powerful tonight than it does on record, and it’s all the better for it. The new material goes down well too, particularly ‘The Base’ which seems to climb forever until its final release, and the sinister ‘Paid For That’ (‘I’ll pay for that/and now you’ll pay me back’) which Banks delivers with such relish it’s almost scary. ‘Paid For That’ gives way to the final song of the main set, ‘Summertime is Coming’, which couldn’t be more different; it’s almost, whisper it, upbeat. It sounds glorious, the chiming guitars filling the room and spreading warmth on this freezing January night. It’s the perfect end to a wonderful set.

As enthusiastic applause ripples through the hall, Banks returns for an encore. Almost a parody of himself, he asks for ‘some moody lighting, please’, only half joking, as he strides into the stately ‘On The Esplanade’, and finishes with ‘Games For Days’, rounding off a superb evening. All night I only hear one shout from the crowd for an Interpol song (‘play Eeeeeeviiilllll!’), but why would he? This was not an Interpol gig. This was a Paul Banks show.