After many, many years of anticipation, the time has come. I am finally going to be able to see The National do what they do best. Play live, and create a collective emotional experience with those in the audience. My love affair with the band began back around 2005 when a friend had passed me a vinyl copy of Alligator. As any fan of the bands’ works can attest, these records evolve, grow and take may listens to absorb. Alligator was a great listen but kind of got shelved for a bit.
Then 2007 rolls around and they release what will probably be forever known as their opus. Boxer. Oh Boxer. The record that early on, most if not all blogs and magazines had it in a top 100 records of all time list. Some such as Pitchfork and Spin had it as record of the year and of the decade. Words can’t explain how much I needed this album at that point in my life. “Slow Show” easily has the most heartfelt key change towards the end of the track. Lyrics such as “…you know I dreamed about you, for twenty nine years, until I found you…” It spent most of 2007/8 on my turntable.
With big shoes to fill, late winter the band had announced that it was working on a new record. They took three years. They took their time. They poured a whole lot of soul into it. “High Violet” was released mid-spring 2010 to a collective sigh of relief from the music community. They had struck lightning again. Rave reviews from the blogosphere and a pre release performance of “Terrible Love” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon dropped jaws nationwide on live television. Frontman Matt Berninger progresses his stage presence like a bottle of champagne, shaken and waiting for the cork to be pulled during the crescendo. He eventually ends up standing on the drum riser, pulling intensity out of every single member of that band.
Tomorrow, August 3rd, I will be in attendance at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Most likely on the rail. Just google a live performance of “Mr November” and you will understand. Who needs wireless microphones? Not Matt Berninger.
Won’t stop him from screaming the chorus for “Squalor Victoria” from the back of the house.
His friends will help get him back there, we got ya Matt.
The National is currently touring in support High Violet, with special guest The Antlers
Wow, what a night. One I wont soon forget. After being second in line we actually made it to the rail. Three feet left of Matt. The band pulled out all the stops. This was by far the best live performance I have ever seen. Matt’s intensity was on a constant increase. I knew we were in for a building setlist, due do the more subdued songs to begin with. Slow Show was everything I thought it would be and more. I get tingles just thinking of it as I write this. I heard Aaron tune up for ” Mr. November” and I screamed “come in for a swim Matt!!”. He looked at me and nodded.
After pacing back in forth in front of the rail for the first verse, he stands right in front of me as if to say “give me both hands, and hold on”. He kicks the mike stand down and dives right for me, one foot on the rail, one foot on the stage. I tried pulling him in but to no avail. He ends up ducking under the rail and my group were all into the mic along with him screaming the chorus. (Video sound clips a little, but defitinely worth watching. I’m the one in the grey plaid shirt. Also very NSFW)
He eventually made his way all the way back to the bar with us in the front row feeding him out microphone cord.
We stuck around after buying some shirts and the High Violet silkscreen print. And the best collectable of all. Aaron’s setlist. Bre somehow has a penchant for getting those, as well as picks.
Ended up meeting the entire band, including Padma. Never met a more genuine group of gentlemen who were “rock stars”. They took a ton of time to learn peoples names ans sign anything and everything, as well as thanking US for coming to see them play. No, THANK YOU guys for the best night of my life.
(all photos courtesy of Bre Kopson Photography and City Mouse)