Striding on to the strains of Bon Iver was a cue for the lack of bombast - opening with a ballad, 'Start a War', would be a naive, somewhat suicidal move in lesser hands. In these it is an exercise in unparalleled poise and self assurance, Matt Berninger proffering his hand and us kindly feeding from his luscious scraps. Ravenously, lupinely. Berninger's heavy-shouldered baritone drawl is the centrepoint for most of the opening few songs, allowing little room for the surrounding brilliance to be more than just a sideshow, but come the end of 'Squalor Victoria' ably chided and abetted by the squalid guitar and insistent violin he lets go, barking rapaciously, flinging wildly and on the verge of collapse. Mid-set. Remarkable. Almost perfect. From here to who knows where? To anywhere you like - joy, despair, euphoria via hairs on necks, 'Abel', 'Ada', 'Green Gloves' and inert jubilation. Stood to one side I contemplate just how good this is. 1200 people are sharing in this but not one is sharing in what I have nor I paying one moment of notice to what each has for themself. 1200 Mearsault's bathing in collective existentialism all conducted by the one onstage, now staggering drunk and wildly out of touch with reality, biting the hand that earlier fed. It ends with 'Fake Empire'. Nothing fake, the National's empire are fit to march on the night embattled and ready to spread the word. The cabal however return with more to say, to plant a 'Cheery Tree' in hearts and minds and pass on words to whisper to the others - 'they won't f**k you over' - The National are the greatest live band in the world.