The National – Manchester

>Once in, The National are hard band to get out of your head. Not that you would want to as they are now one of the premier bands of the world with four stunning albums in the last decade. Only bands like Spoon can rival that consistency in the indie music world. But The National are much darker and lyrically cryptic than Texas’ more jolly Spoon. Yet you’ll find yourself mumbling their lyrics throughout your days.

Matt Berninger’s baritone voice muses over failed love and disconnection with the modern world, equally in sorrow and angst. Despite this, the band aren’t mournful but powered along by a driving rhythm section, stronger guitars than on previous albums and more brass and strings.

I saw The National in Berlin earlier this year just as their new acclaimed album High Violet was released. However I needed to see them again as I was way too drunk to remember much. Stupid me. This time with the vodka intake under relative control, the memories of the show will stay with me for a long time.

Playing exclusively from their last three albums and for 100 minutes, Alligator, Boxer and High Violet, they mixed it up with parables of being a misfit like Mistaken for Strangers, Lemonworld and Bloodbuzz Ohio to the driving, almost anthemic tunes in Abel and Lit Up and soul-searching, lonesome ballads in Sorrow, Slow Show and the epic Terrible Love. Berninger only threw his mic about four times this time but joined the crowd for Mr November and seemed to be enjoying his wine as usual. They closed it out with a slow, acoustic sing-a-long version of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.

The knowing Manchester crowd lapped it up, singing happily, hugging thy neighbour and generally feeling proud to have been there. It was like we’d won the World Cup. It was some gig from some band.

Set List

Mistaken For Strangers, Anyone’s Ghost, Slow Show, Squalor Victoria, Afraid of Everyone, Bloodbuzz Ohio, Lit Up, Conversation 16, Apartment Song, Abel, Sorrow, Green Gloves, England, Fake Empire, Start a War, Lemonworld, Mr November, Terrible Love, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks


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