Feb 9, 2014

The National @ Sydney Opera House Forecourt

Over many years of hard work and inspiration The National have become a phenomenon. They have gone from bedroom burners to stadium rockers. But they are a band with a difference, a band unique. They present dark and introspective lyrics and topics that somehow have found a wider audience then I'm sure they would ever have expected. It's quite a surreal experience to see thousands of people singing with joy to such dark material. But somehow The National pull it off. Their songs are anthemic and epic. They build with certainty and contain hooks that slowly swallow you. Saturday night was the second of two shows in Sydney. But it wasn't any old venue. It was the Sydney Opera House. But more than that it was on the Forecourt, with the band facing the sails of Sydney's most iconic building. On a perfect summer evening this felt special. Really special. And it was. Two hours of euphoric intensity.

With each and every album the audience of The National has grown. "High Violet" took them to another level and 2013's "Trouble Will Find Me" consolidated their position. Whilst I don't consider it to be their best album it is still a fine one. Last night we would naturally get a good serving of it. Ten I counted. And I actually think they grew a leg live. Especially "I Should Live in Salt", which was more aggressive than on record. I also loved "Sea of Love" and "Graceless". But it was older numbers that really nailed it. Such as "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and one-two punch of "Afraid of Everyone" and "Conversation 16". Much loved too was the slow burning duo of "Slow Show" and "Apartment Story". And of course I was very excited to hear "About Today" once again. I sincerely hope that they never tire of playing this live. But it was the encore where things got a little crazy and a whole lot great. Firstly we heard them ply us with the Perfume Genius cover in "Learning", then "Mr. November" broke loose as Matt Berninger made his way into the rapturous crowd, still wailing as we cheered and sang in full voice. Berninger went in again during the showstopping "Terrible Love". If that wasn't enough then we received, as is expected now, an acoustic version of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks". The band fronted the stage and we sang along with glee and pure joy. As it ended we all knew this was a night to remember for a very long time.

Set List
Don't Swallow the Cap
I Should Live in Salt
Mistaken for Strangers
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Demons
Sea of Love
Hard to Find
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Squalor Victoria
I Need My Girl
This Is the Last Time
Lean
Abel
Slow Show
Apartment Story
Pink Rabbits
England
Graceless
About Today
Fake Empire

Learning (Perfume Genius cover)
Humiliation
Mr. November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks (acoustic)

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