28 November 2014

Trouble Found Me

I don't go to a lot of gigs — somehow I never end up being as organised when it comes to music as I am for cinema — but when my brother suggested I join him and my sister-in-law at the last night of The National's Trouble Will Find Me tour, I was totally in. The National has been one of my favourite bands since I discovered Boxer on Radio Paradise some seven years ago. Although I like most of their songs, four rank in my all-time 50-most-played tunes, which is no mean feat. Their penultimate album, High Violet, wasn't my favourite, but I've kept most of the songs from Trouble Will Find Me on my 'current' playlist on my iPhone for much of this year. I'm no music writer, but if you like complex, melancholy lyrics; soulful, baritone vocals; and a sound that goes from contemplative to pumping in sixty seconds, you will probably love The National.

We bought tickets to Wednesday night's gig at The O2 several months ago, and I was particularly annoyed to be feeling so under the weather this week. Perhaps foolhardily, though, I braved it out. I had been looking forward to seeing the supporting act, The Wild Beasts, but delays of transportation and food meant we only caught the very tail end. We did at least manage to grab a decent enough spot in the standing area. The good thing about a huge venue like The O2 is that you aren't completely packed in like sardines, even at a sold-out gig like last night.

And it was a great night! The band were joined by Sufjan Stevens, another favourite artist of mine, and the energy and enthusiasm was infectious. I could have listened to Matt Berninger's deep, rumbling vocals all night, but all we got was a 26-song set list. Which was awesome. Slow Show, which is — unimaginatively, perhaps — one of my favourites, was featured fairly promptly after the Trouble Will Find Me Songs, but I had to wait until the end for About TodayFake Empire and Ada, the latter of which featured Stevens' Chicago trumpet outro.

As a short woman in a sea of tall, plaid-wearing men, it was a little tricky to follow what was going on on stage at times (as evidenced by the poor-quality photos): I spent most of the night trying to find the gaps between the three tall guys in front of me. But despite not feeling very well, I had a great time. The bro saw the band at the beginning of the same tour at Alexandra Palace, and said that the setlist and the venue worked rather better, but as a fan of The National who doesn't often make it out to see bands live, I thought last night was ace. Next time the band are in town, I'm definitely going to check them out again.

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