The Roundhouse is a great setting for this one off UK show for The National, especially given they’re now destined for mainly bigger venues (they’re playing Ally Pally later in the year) and Local Natives are fantastic opening act to begin the night.
Taking to the stage, the band start off magnificently with the first 2 tracks on their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, and the set continues to be mostly new song of this record and 2010’s High Violet, with a few classics from Alligator and Boxer thrown in.
Matt Berniger’s voice is incredibly powerful throughout, especially on Squalor Victoria and Conversation 16 – where he practically screams the words “’cause I’m evil.” He can really hold his own vocally and is clearly feeling the lyrics to all the tracks. They play England “for Glastonbury goers” and it’s very fitting given the lyrics: “You must be somewhere in London / You must be loving your life in the rain”. Slower songs from the new record such as I Need My Girl and Pink Rabbits are also really lovely live.
The rare About Today (off 2004’s Cherry Tree EP) is a highlight, building up wonderfully. Fake Empire follows and closes the set. The encore is perhaps the best part of the show, featuring Alligator’s Mr. November – during which Berninger dives into the crowd and continues to sing while standing surrounded by fans. An amazing rendition of Terrible Love follows, then an acoustic version of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks finishes the set with the crowd singing along to every word.
Personable and funny, Berniger chats away with the crowd and towards the end seems drunk (well he is drinking straight from a bottle of red wine, so no wonder) but his state seems to fit somehow with the overall show.
Although there were a few of their bigger songs (Slow Show, Mistaken For Strangers, Anyone’s Ghost) I would have liked to have heard, overall they played most of the favourites and so I can’t complain. An amazing concert – hands down, it was one of the best gigs I’ve seen.