Edit this event
- The National »
Even before they begin I can picture how it’s going to end, with bright lights and the ache of a heavy heart starting all over again. That longing for it not to be over starts before they even strum a string. Long before the twinkling wink of the acoustic guitar. Before the words “walk away now, if you’re gonna start a war” melt into the most perfect military drum drone, which ascends wall after wall of barbed anguish, taking the song far beyond the recorded version like some sort of transcendental uprising. I'm post-pretentious, and it's only the first song!
“Glistening, glimmering, gloom. Majestic, magnificent, melancholy...” These are the words whizzing through my head. Words eagerly scribbled as I resist rejoining the human race, staring at the empty stage for an uncomfortably long time. Head still nodding, toe still tapping; scribbling “feeling distinctly dishevelled... like an office worker who’s just stepped off a rollercoaster, his tie caught in his windswept mess of hair.”
The set continues playing over and over in my head, continually reminding me what an idiot I was to write this band off after not liking their early stuff. Every moment of virtuosity on display is another slug in the gut. Every time I open my stupid mouth to breathe beer breath and sing along, I feel a sense of disappointment that I didn’t get to see this band play tiny club shows. All those lost indie points for the perfect anti-Coldplay trump card. So much time I could have spent genuinely excited about a band, rather than wishing something with guitars, from this decade, could truly inspire me. Then ‘Mistaken for Strangers’ dumps me like a village idiot with its thrust of Elbow-gone-Interpol-via-Arcade-Fire (insert continuation of journo cliché here). Being lost for the right words and reaching for easy ways to translate why I love them never felt so good.
And on it goes, a tent enthralled and me scribbling things not safe for print, totally agog to one of the finest bands around. They summon every prickly feeling from every great art-house movie, sling in enough lyrical meaninglessness to make David Lynch wince and then the brass tingles nostalgic memories from somewhere deep in the subconscious. Bar scenes from my youth play in black and white. Moments gazing at pavement cracks, boiling ants. Days lost watching ticking clocks, slip in and out of my mind like bad Warhol movies. Ed Norton and a young Brad Pitt then begin to play my forgotten childhood friends, Jimmy Stewart my generous Easter-loving uncle. I have no idea where, why or how these things come to the fore of my mind.
Tonight’s performance probably wasn’t even their best this year, but for someone who spends their life detached and disappointed by endlessly touring bands who can barely play and buzz bands with nothing to communicate it warms my heart that a bunch of gentlemen can take me away from it all for half an hour and into the darkest corners of depression. I could go on and on, talking epic and personal semi-nonsense but my message is this: if you wrote them off, expect to feel very very stupid when The National return next year with their new album, because they keep getting better and better.
_Setlist, July 4, Hyde Park
‘Start A War’
‘Baby, Well Be Fine’
‘Mistaken for Strangers’
‘Racing Like A Pro’
- The National - Trouble Will Find Me
- A Scream and an Outrage: Win tickets to Barbican weekend of music curated by Nico Muhly
- DiS Does Singles 15.04.13: Cat Power, Jessie Ware, The National, Bibio
- ATP The National: the DiS review
- The DiS Community's... 101 Favourite Albums
- Watch: Sharon Van Etten in session + she chats about Tramp and getting stuck in the mud
- Half-Year: DiS' Most Read Articles, Reviews and Threads of 2012 (so far!)
- DiS meets Bryce Dessner of The Long Count & The National