Sunday, September 26, 2010

It Takes an Ocean Not to Break

As I mentioned before, The National truly blew me away at Lollapalooza. Matt Berninger's stage presence completely transcends space and time. So when I got the opportunity to see The National at the Riviera in Chicago last night, I knew I could not turn it down.

Here is a band that becomes something new on stage. From the absolutely awe-inspiring drumming of Bryan Devendorf to the guitars, pianos, horns, and all other instruments, this band never falters. But Matt Berninger -- he is something to behold. He goes into his own little (drunken) world while he performs, his powerful baritone belting out the melancholy lyrics of so many beautiful songs. But when he is not singing, he wanders around the stage, en
grossed in the music, inside of himself. He talks to himself a bit, he sometimes claps to something else in his head, he spins, he lies down, he screams.

And he goes out into the audience. During the encore finale performance of "Terrible Love," Berninger left the stage, weaved his way through the crowd (singing the whole time) with the cord stretching back to the stage. The fans held the cord up above their heads while Berninger made his way to the back of the room, finishing the song while standing on the bar at the back of the venue. Meanwhile, the band wailed on stage, turning "Terrible Love" into a heavy rock song.

Other highlights for me included "Bloodbuzz, Ohio" (of course), "Mistaken for Strangers," "Apartment Story" (which started out as a beautiful acoustic version), "Abel." "Squalor Victoria" (which was transformed into a very hard rocking song by the end), "Sorrow," and "Mr. November." And probably my favorite was "Fake Empire," wherein the drums and horns gave me goosebumps.

But the entire show was flawless.
1. Runaway
2. Anyone's Ghost
3. Mistaken for Strangers
4. Bloodbuzz Ohio
5. Slow Show
6. Squalor Victoria
7. Afraid of Everyone
8. Available
9. Conversation 16
10. Apartment Story
11. Sorrow
12. Abel
13. Daughters of the SoHo Riots
14. England
15. Fake Empire

16. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks
17. Mr. November
18. Terrible Love

This concert will stick in my head. The National must be seen live. My appreciation for them has grown each time I've seen them perform, and now their songs mean so much more to me than ever before.


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