Wednesday 20 July 2011

Heaven Is Crying With The National

Since they released their very good last album High Violet last year I've been quite fond of The National. Their sad but at the same time warm and comforting music made a big impression on me and their live performances even more. So when they are planning a gig in a beautiful place like the open air theater Caprera at the Dutch coastal town Bloemendaal I make sure I'm there!

The National at Open Air Theater Caprera Bloemendaal, 12 July 2011 (Ronald Says 9 out of 10)
But the weather gods are not on our hand or are they? It has been raining all day and it won't stop this evening either. So the stand is a colourful mix of ponchos, rain coats and umbrellas. The sky a dark kind of gray. It must be a strange sight for the band when they take the stage.

But when they start playing no one seems to mind the weather anymore. Singer Matt Berninger even is wondering why no one has left halfway the set like they would have in The States according to him. Why would you? The rain only adds to the atmosphere and this night is turning into a special one. Berninger's voice is clear and powerful. The band is playing focused and its members are working very hard to keep everyone on their toes. And the weather gods can only continue weeping over these sad songs. Or as Berninger puts it they are the perfect conditions "to play slow and sad depressing music."

When the night slowly progresses and the dark sets in the colourful stage lights even make it more magical. Berninger is interacting more with the crowd than usual, even cracking jokes. But he still can be totally into the music, walking around like a caged tiger and turning almost aggressive when the music and his vocals pick up. At one point he even throws the mic stand into the little pond in front of the stage.

Although it looks like at the end they're discussing which songs to play as an encore, the set list is the usual one on this tour. It slowly builds up to the more rocking songs in the encore like "Mr November" and "Abel". Even the final song "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" that they are playing acoustically without amps in front of the crowd is nothing new. But it looks very spontaneous especially when Berninger walks through the crowd while he is singing. It doesn't matter if it's spontaneous or not, since everything just looks perfect tonight. Turning the worst summer night ever into one of the most memorable ones.

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