I know when I’ve really enjoyed a gig when I cannot stop playing their music when I get home. And today, The National have been on rotation all day.
For anyone that went on Friday, the performance was very similar, the only notable difference being that the whole band (minus Matt Berninger) wearing Fitzroy jumpers during the encore. Matt explained that he had left his in his hotel, although it emerged later that because of his muscular deficiency it may have been on purpose.
The set list and its sequencing were almost the same too, but instead of All The Wine
we got Wasp’s Nest
. Daughters of the Soho Rights
(I fucking love this song) came right before Fake Empire
last night, which ended the main set on both nights. The only other change saw the encore begin with Gospel
instead of Green Gloves
But even these slight changes in the set list seemed to make for a noticeably varied alteration in tempo. All the songs they only performed on Saturday were slower. This not only focussed greater attention on the relative poignancy of these songs, but also on the songs that were already in Friday’s set. Ada
was one song that sounded more delicate to me because the tempo of the whole gig had changed.
Yet, it wasn’t just the slower songs that benefited from these changes. While there were similar renditions of all the songs that were repeated on both nights , the harder edged songs, Abel
and Mr November
sounded more frantic, more emotionally disturbed because they were surrounded by a slightly more varied track selection.
The main difference however appeared to be a better mix. For starters, it was welcomed that the drums were clearer, but it was themarkedly more lucid guitars that made the most difference to me . The Dessner brothers’ occasional short sharp blasts of feedback demanded attention on Saturday instead of floundering within a muddy mix on Friday.
So, while Friday night may have hinted that The National were a good live band, with some very minor changes, Saturday night suggested they are perhaps much much better than this initial assessment.