Sunday 10 November 2013

Intense Performance By Impressive The National

The big Heineken Music Hall doesn't sound like an ideal place to see a band like The National. But ever since releasing High Violet a few years back things went fast for the Brooklyn based band. This year's Trouble Will Find Me established their newly achieved position as a high profile group. It also means shows in small clubs are something of the past.

The National at Heineken Music Hall Amsterdam, November 7 2013

The band doesn't forget that they owe their success mainly to the last two albums. Their set list is focusing mainly on them. Their self titled debut album is even completely ignored. With ten songs from the latest album it means they're playing almost the entire album. Although it is their newest album of course, you don't see many bands doing that. It proves how confident they are about the new songs, but also that they recognize the fact that a large part of the audience probably isn't that familiar with their older work.

That older work has some gems of its own of course. A true fan wouldn't accept a set list without a vicious 'Abel' and the beautiful 'Fake Empire'. However the last two records are simply of such rare high standard that it would be a crime not to play songs like 'Anyone's Ghost', 'Demons' or 'Sea Of Love'.

Singer Matt Berninger has to warm up in the beginning before he's relaxed. He's moving around in his usual fashion like a caged tiger, continuously sipping wine. It never gets old watching his emotional performance. There's no other artist who can sing with so much intensity and emotion like him. His warm baritone is massaging your soul until the tension has build up inside him and just bursts out with huge outcries. Later on in the set everything falls into place. The crowd is quiet and is listening breathlessly to beautiful versions of 'Hard To Find' and 'Pink Rabbits'. By the time they play the gorgeous 'I Need My Girl' they have resized the big Music Hall to a tiny intimate club and I'm completely lost in the music.

The guitars played by the twin Dessner brothers Aaron and Bryce sound great and big in the climax parts, but they are ringing modestly in the subtle picking parts. The horns add precisely enough melancholy to the music. Bryan Devendorf's creative grooves are pushing a song like 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' forward. At the end audience and band connect literally when Berninger is taking his usual plunge into the crowd during an always thundering 'Mr. November' and again in 'Terrible Love' that closes the set. A truly magical performance we don't see very often in this place.

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01. I Should Live in Salt
02. Don't Swallow the Cap
03. Anyone's Ghost
04. Bloodbuzz Ohio
05. Demons
06. Sea of Love
07. Hard to Find
08. Afraid of Everyone
09. Conversation 16
10. Available
11. Cardinal Song
12. I Need My Girl
13. This Is the Last Time
14. All the Wine
15. Abel
16. Slow Show
17. Sorrow
18. Pink Rabbits
19. England
20. Graceless
21. Fake Empire
22. About Today
23. Humiliation
24. Mr. November
25. Terrible Love

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