Jan 7, 2011

The National @ Enmore Theatre

In a word. Magnificent. In two words. Majestically magnificent. Yes, The National are a magnificent band. In every sense of the word. In this age of the quick fix, the dire state of popular music, it is quite refreshing to see a band sell out twice over the Enmore Theatre. A band without pyrotechnics, a band that is quite dark, sometime even sombre. More power to them. This band from Ohio via Brooklyn are truly one of the greats. Their songs exclaim power and intellect. They move you emotionally and give you so many shining moments. Friday night in Sydney I was carried in a swarm of bees.

I could actually just fast forward to an encore for the ages, but I guess I should fill you on the proceedings beforehand. A little after 9pm the band sauntered on stage to a hero's welcome. They launched their guitars and stoically gave us "Runaway". We melted and readied ourselves for more. "Mistaken For Strangers" was super charged, as was "Squalor Victoria", but it was the luminescent "Bloodbuzz Ohio" that lifted the night to a higher level. What a mighty song this is. A mighty oak tree, towering over the horizon. The band had us in the palm of their hands. We were their devoted acolytes. So much so that there was almost reverential quiet between songs. Which led to some uneasy banter that I think even made the band a little uncomfortable. But they are certainly in their element when the music flows. The Dessner brothers serenade us with their euphoric electrics, whilst one Devendorf sows the solid bass lines. The other Devendorf, Bryan, pounds the drums with uncommon strength. Then there is Matt Berninger. This tall specimen of a man takes centre stage with his voice commanding and also gentle. Kind and ecstatic. Truly one of a kind. We were also lucky last night to receive a horn section for most of the set. "Apartment Story" was the other stellar highlight of the night. This song is actually 'our song' and it makes the heart soar when we hear it live. My only slight quibble of the night would be an aching yearning for some more material from "Alligator". I would have gladly taken an "All The Wine" for a "Lemonworld" for example. But this is a minor quibble. So to the encore. As good as it gets. "Mr November" tore us apart as was to be expected. Then "Terrible Love" raised the bar just a little higher. During the climax of this song Berninger climbed into the audience and managed to go halfway up the theatre where the crowd lifted him onto the barrier. All the while he never lost a beat, belting the song out with utmost fervour before rejoining the stage. Then somehow it got even better. The band went unplugged and moved to the front of the stage for an acoustic singalong of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks". Amazingly the crowd went word for word as the band serenaded the audience and vice versa. Truly an unforgettable moment on an unforgettable night. They left us then. We went home.
Memories to stay in our heart.

Set List
Mistaken For Strangers
Anyone's Ghost
Slow Show
Squalor Victoria
Afraid of Everyone
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Lit Up
Conversation 16
Apartment Story
Green Gloves
Fake Empire

Mr November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks (unplugged)


  • At January 08, 2011 , Anonymous Claire said...

    Thanks for the review - I can't wait to see them at the Palais on Sunday/Monday! Although I'm a little sad I haven't had the chance to see them in a proper "rock" venue yet. Would have loved to be in Sydney this weekend!

  • At January 08, 2011 , Anonymous Sean said...

    Damn you...they didn't play Lemonworld when I saw them a few months back. Love that one.

  • At January 13, 2011 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My wife woke up at 4am in the morning with an uneasy feeling. She checked our tickets to confirm her horror. We'd missed the Saturday show. This review just made it all the harder to swallow :-(

    I'm glad they lived up to expectations though.


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