A bigger venue, a shittier sound system, but still an amazing show by The National on Tuesday night.
It was my first time at the newly named “Fillmore at the TLA”. They added some posters of seminal Philly concerts like Yes at the Wachovia Center in 2004 . Also, the sides of the venue are now draped in red cloth, the floor is now hardwood and there are chandeliers adorning the ceiling.
Unfortunately for the sold-out audience in attendance, the horrendous acoustics and sound system remained. There were times when Matt Berninger’s vocals were complete drowned out by the mix. On the slower songs, it was more bearable, but the TLA did The National no justice sound-wise.
Luckily, this band is more than capable of fending off little obstacles like shitty speakers. Their 17 song set was a powerful, passionate trek through their discography. Matt Berninger fought back a cold all night with what sounded like a minor overdose of Robitussin. His banter between songs shows a dry, sharp sense of humor.
When we last left the band, they had played Johnny Brenda’s coming off of a 5 night residency at Bower Ballroom in NYC. It was my first time seeing the Cincinnati-bred band, and they did not disappoint. The small room at JB’s was the perfect spot for an intimate set.
You can’t keep a good band down for long, and such is the case with The National. They have obviously picked up a new army of fans over the past fews months on the strength of
, their 4th LP, and possibly the album of the year in my humble opinion.
The guys had much more elbow room to work with this time around and the crowd benefited. Berninger’s understated stage presence and passionate crooning fit like a glove with the band’s sound. Violinist Padme Newsome’s awe-inspiring playing on multiple instruments is, in many case, the spark that ignites this previously criminally underrated band’s intense fire.
The National have been written off at time for being too boring, but I do not see it. Unlike many throwaway acts with cheap lyrics and even cheaper hooks, the band elicits simple visuals about everyday life against the backdrop of phenomenal musical arrangements. The slower moments cut as deep as the burners do. There were times when I wanted to dive into the crowd and start dancing like a maniac. There are moments/lyrics/violin parts in The National’s music that get me there.
When the main set ended with a blistering version of “Mr. November”, I turned to Rant contributor John and wondered aloud how the band could top that in a encore. And then Berninger reached back into his sore throat and tore up all the best parts of Abel before closing with the beautiful, evocative “About Today” from their
Start A War
Mistaken For Strangers
Baby We’ll Be Fine
Racing Like A Pro
All The Wine
Daughters of the Soho Riots