The National last played
Download: The National - "Brainy"
They mixed up their set list from June beginning with “Brainy” off Boxer. It’s a slow build song that eventually breaks into bold guitars riffs with an added violinist pummeling away. “Secret Meeting” from the more familiar Alligator follows with lead singer Matt Berninger quipping, “This is an old song.” Well, it is from 2005. Berninger smiles as he sings allowing his usually intense and concentrated self to enjoy the limelight. “Mistaken for Strangers” is next with three vocalist singing. Berninger quickly walks off stage before the song is over but returns. The set wavers between Alligator and Boxer mixing melancholy with more upbeat tracks. Boxer integrates a lot of strings while Alligator seems more jagged and angrier thus rocks more live. “Slow Show” and crowd pleaser “Baby, We’ll Be Fine” are next. Berninger has a tendency to throw his mic stand around like a baton as he sings. He occasionally drops it, but no one gets harmed. “Squalor Victoria” evokes a lot of head nodding from the packed audience. The group play “Abel," a favorite off Alligator and usually saved for last. The energetic song causes Berninger to use his mic stand as a marching pole. He becomes schizophrenic in full-on histrionics as he screams out the chorus. Sometimes one hears a song and has that “oh yeah, I forgot about that song” moment. “All the Wine” was that moment. The sentimental track resonates in a different way with dinging keyboards recognizable. Berninger dedicates the song to a friend. The band play two slow songs, the piano infused “Ada” and “City Middle" (absent from last time but a nice addition). The catchy “Apartment Story” breaks the slow streak until the measured “Daughter of the Soho Riots” comes through. The first single from Boxer, “Fake Empire,” sounds more effusive than the recorded version as it rocks out with people clapping along. “About Today” from their Cherry Tree EP is the penultimate song with the set ending on the the usual opener “Start a War.” Berninger throws a drumstick into the audience and walks offstage.
For the encore, the band is joined by opener St. Vincent, a.k.a Anne Clark. This chick is cool—afterall, she named her debut album after an Arrested Development reference. Berninger and Clark duet on “Green Gloves” in a pretty performance. The National save the best for last with “Mr. November.” A spastic Berninger crowd surfs and has to be yanked back onstage by his band mates. The show’s over and the audience gives them a well-deserved standing ovation. Maybe next time they'll finally add some tracks from the under appreciated Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers into their set. The National are just so fucking good live. There's really no other way to put it. Berninger definitely makes the band. Even though he occasionally has rock star antics, he’s still sincere and genuine. The band leave all pretension behind performing on the merit of their amazing songs.