Last night I finally saw The National at the Royal Albert Hall. This band has been my absolute favourite for so long, so this had been a long time coming. The venue was nothing less than perfect for my first live experience.
I don’t claim to be a music journalist or expert, so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but suffice to say it was probably one of the favourite gigs of my life so far, which is saying a lot. Just give me Matt Berninger, the man with the sexiest voice on the planet, backed up for the occasion with some violins and trumpets and I’m a lost cause. This is my equivalent of seeing the Backstreet Boys circa 1997.
They mostly played songs from their new album High Violet, which is only out on May 11th, which meant most of the crowd didn’t know them very well (unless they had downloaded the illegal version doing the rounds or had a listen via the streaming on the NY Times website). Me and my gig companion knew every lyric by heart, needless to say – the NY Times, obviously. This was a real National fanclub gig, with the occasional ‘hit’ thrown in, but even then they left out some of the biggest crowdpleasers.
Even though they’re onto their fourth album now, they’ve always been a pretty small band with a loyal following which has grown and grown over the years. Somehow, they’ve now managed to fill up the Royal Albert Hall, something they couldn’t quite believe either. No attitude, no hoopla, no rock’n roll, just all about the music. The National are probably the most modest, most unpretentious bunch of rockers I’ve ever seen. And this makes them all the more charming.
Update: Here’s a video I made of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, off the new High Violet album. It is probably one of my favourite songs and one of the only ones I didn’t ruin by singing all over the track. Enjoy!