Gig: The National, City Recital Hall, Sydney 21/01/08
I couldn’t help but smile last night. My most recent favourite band, The National, were in town and I was there enjoying every last minute – and I really do mean every last minute.
A brilliant set performed with power and finesse, in a venue which leans towards intimacy despite its cavernous feel.
Clogs started off the night, setting the pace of the night with 2,3,5, which Padma Newsome described as the beat Bryce Dessner was playing on his guitar. To me Clogs are a new breed of band, tying in eclectic beats and rhythms to form beautiful melodies that peak and trough throughout a five minute song, taking the listener through an often dysfunctional collection of sounds, which culminate into harmony in the most mysterious of places.
That’s probably a really complicated way of describing it – but trust me the music is complicated. Beautiful, but complicated – it’s not your traditional four-four foot stopping beats.
Clogs played for about an hour, before making way for The National.
It was a surreal gig, for the crowd, and I bet for the band. As the name of the hall implied it felt more like a recital than a rock show, with a well behaved crowd applauding raucously for around 10 seconds after each song, before slipping into a deftly silence as we awaiting the opening chords of the next.
Saying that it was surreal definitely doesn’t mean it was anything other than spectacular. The National are a powerful unit, super tight with each other and very much masters of their music. Each song was performed with studio precision, but with that extra touch of spice to give it a live edge.
Personal highlights of the night were Mr. November (where Matt jumped into the seated crowd), Abel, Slow Show and Squalor Victoria.
Not from last night, but a good live version of Mr November all the same!
The band were joined by all of Clogs for many songs throughout, plus Padma’s sister as well as two magnificent horn players – who added a whole extra element to the songs.
If I had someone to go with I would be there again tonight, and tomorrow. It was a great show, with feeling. The National are the new blue blood, they are the great white hope.