The National’s rise to ascendancy didn’t happen overnight. Almost as famous for the struggles in their early career, playing to empty bar rooms across America, as they are for the subtle ever growing brilliance of their albums, they are a lesson to cut throat record company executives around the world, that sometimes, just sometimes, a band needs time to grow.
Playing the second of two sold out shows at the superb and underrated Alexandra Palace (the sound throughout was excellent), by far and away their biggest headline UK shows, to enter the live world of The National is to get entranced into another state of being, to be taken away and to exist in a vacant ethereal world. Akin to the feeling of watching a road movie across the American deserts, or driving down the soulless motorway, its a magical place, a locale where you want to stay for ever, never to leave, like the most addictive of drugs.
With a set largely based around tracks from ‘High Violet’ and new album ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, the highlights were too numerous to mention, though special reserve must be held for ‘Pink Rabbits’ and the two closing tracks ‘Terrible Love’, which became an altogether more wild animal live, and ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’. Played semi-acoustically and away from amplification, it saw Matt Berninger and audience sing along as one, showing that the band have more than one string to their bow, and leading everyone to put their arms in the air and get swept up in this wave, forever lost at sea.
Words struggle to do justice to the genius of this show, but perhaps though the biggest praise for the show though came from the fact that, for 2 hours, amongst 11,000 people in a hot sweaty room, you could hear a pin drop. You just don’t get that at arena shows. The National deserve that respect. What a night.