Live Review: The National at The Electric Ballroom

on Sunday, June 06, 2010
Words: Kieran Toms

Live: The National, May 5th 2010, The Electric Ballroom.

The National

I met some friends I hadn’t seen in a while before this gig. They had introduced me to The National a while ago. It felt fitting that I was to see The National with them. They were looking forward to it immensely. So was I. I felt privileged to see them in such a small venue. They played a large and varied set list, which lasted one hour and forty-five minutes. Everyone sang along like introspective football fans, partisan towards our emotions and the American lads onstage playing their hearts out. The waistcoated singer Matt Beringer gradually got drunk then drunker, swigging from a goblet of wine.

The band played some songs from the new album. Much of the crowd sang along to these new songs. 'England' in particular standing out. The singer commented on how everyone knew the words to the then-unreleased album. The crowd weren’t sure whether this was a bitter jibe at illegal downloaders. I thought guiltily of the iPod in my pocket. Then the singer said "it’s okay, we streamed it." Everyone laughed or cheered.

The gig built up in intensity. The crowd at the front started going wild. The National went off then came back. The encore started with 'Mr November'. Matt Beringer told us "good luck tomorrow", tomorrow being the day of the general election. He came into the crowd. He went very far back, pursued by a rabble of fans bellowing along to the song, all travelling in the slipstream of the big burly bouncer accompanying him.

Somehow he hit all the notes right, despite being mobbed and hugged relentlessly. It was a wonderful moment. When they finished that song, it was gone eleven, the designated curfew time. They’d been told before 'Mr November' that they could only play one more. Matt Beringer stayed in the crowd and told them to start playing 'Terrible Love', the final song. He and the crowd sang as one. We left, sweaty and exhilarated. My friends and I all agreed that it was one of the best gigs we’d ever been to. Even later, when the adrenalin had long since worn off, I still felt the same way.

Download 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' from the recently released 'High Violet' album. Read this for ordering details.

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