London Tues 27/9/17 Review and thoughts – please comment
September 29, 2017 at 10:25 am #15984
I love this band, some of you know that already. Although a Johnny-come-lately beginning my obsession in 2011 I locked on fast and they have been a source of sustenance and growth for me personally ever since.
But something has happened this tour. Saw them in Manchester and it was good, ish. Saw them in London on Tuesday and I came out of the gig disappointed. Not the same fierce, visceral experience I have had in previous gigs. I have been wondering a lot. Have they changed, or have I?
The song choice both nights was suspect, for me. I do love the new album. Well, most of it. But Born to Beg, Dark Side etc just didn’t come across well live. And I just don’t get Turtleneck on any level. I feel they played too much of the new material, and its placement in the setlist was off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the one shouting for Mr November at every gig. But with such a truely amazing back catalogue they could afford to skip some of the (weaker) new songs and play more from ie Trouble if they don’t want to go further back.
The band were as amazing musically as usual. And the visuals were cool. But something was missing, probably from my side – a sense of connection, warmth?
I am really curious to hear if others have felt the same / different and to drill down into what is happening for me and my relationship with this band.September 29, 2017 at 1:25 pm #15985
I ike the fact they played the majority of new album and it would have been better in a more intimate environment (maybe seated would have made people more respectful rather than acting like drunk idiots!!).
But people can’t concentrate for more than 4 songs nowadays and the amount of talking close to the band was scandalous.
I don’t really know the answer as they are massive now in UK so that will naturally attract wankers that can waste £45 on a ticket to sing along to two songs and get pissed.
September 29, 2017 at 2:02 pm #15987
- This reply was modified 10 months, 3 weeks ago by Nick110581.
See, this is why I love TN fans – they want to explore stuff like this.
Some good points that resonated with me, I have felt like this but more with the previous album.
I will come back and address this in more detail when my brain isn’t totally steamed (got back from last night’s show super late – thanks, A14 overnight roadworks!)
September 29, 2017 at 11:09 pm #15995
- This reply was modified 10 months, 3 weeks ago by Karin.
I really think Nick has hit the nail on the head with his latter point. England has been a really wierd place for show in that respect – a band gets big, tickets get expensive, people are disinterested despite paying a premium – it seems the more expensive something is, the more you have to adopt traditions of pseudo-enjoyment dictated by social norms – aka gettting wasted and being unpleasant, disrespectful and belligerent much of the time. It’s definitely noticeable – I have seen The national in 30+ different countries, and the response from the crowd differs with each. I have a very specific experience, I arrive at a certain time, I always stand in the same spot – but even in the front there’s always someone who thinks it’s cool to be a dick. At the Roundhouse a few years ago, I almost got into a fist fight with a man who was smoking (already illegal) and groping girls at the front. I spent most of the show crying at the front (and sadly not because i was ‘so moved by the band’, whilst security took their time removing him. I have seen them bigger places in the UK, and have experienced people pissing on the floor at the front. I have been verbally abused. People have been so rude. There is ZERO respect in UK venues in a general underlying sense. People talk. They pay 60 quid and TALK. Why? This shouldn’t happen. It’s funny – in Ireland, the shows are fulllll of drunkards – but it’s always so joyous, they sing so so loudly and you can see the love. It’s just mad. You can imagine was like in Japan, the fans were QUIET between songs. The atmosphere was unique, it was full of respect. People entered according to the numbers on their tickets. It was a whole different world. I could write a whole book on it!
October 1, 2017 at 6:48 am #16002
- This reply was modified 10 months, 3 weeks ago by LogicalHarm.
Thank you for your replies in helping me untangle this. LH you are right, best gig of my life was the one in Belfast which was raw and wonderful and loud and drunken but band and audience were in sync somehow.
And in breaking news I think I may have some elucidation. It’s so obvious. Vanderlyle is out of rotation. I can see it maybe served a purpose and they want to leave it behind, but man, that did bring the crowd together and provided that intimacy even in huge venues.October 1, 2017 at 11:10 am #16003
I saw both Manchester shows and the Monday show in London. I only got the Monday show tickets as I had seated on the Friday in Manchester and nothing for the Saturday. On the actual days a friend gave us his standing tickets in the venue to get in the bottom and on Saturday I bought a standing ticket for face value off a guy on Facebook.
Friday, the problem with the Apollo is on the left of the stage is a bar and toilet and despite being three from the front people were just talking. Loudly. In some cases actually intentionally over the band in quieter songs. One woman kept yelling England and when they played it absolutely oblivious to it. My boyfriend asked the biggest and loudest group if they were even there to watch the band and luckily they shut up rather than start a fight. From there it was much better, especially the encore.
The second show I was with a friend, same place. I had a great conversation with a big The National fan as they played trying to guess what different songs they’d play. It was a lot quieter and a lot more people sang along and appeared to be there for the band, not just to be seen. In the encore a guy pulled me towards Matt during Mr November and said “you look like you need to be in there” which was hilarious. The vibe was 1000x better than Friday and probably helped my less of High Violet.
Monday I went early for This is the Kit. I was one back on the barrier, standing on the raised lip. This older tall man with his girlfriend at the end just decided to push me back off the lip and then thrust his entire body out from the barrier to create this huge space and block anyone from standing near him and his girlfriend. He spent the entire gig pushing back on me and once I could move over another girl who was also a foot smaller than him. Then he spent the gig just looking like he wanted to be anywhere else. The vibe was just typical London, stand unmoved, look like you want to be anywhere else. It was the reason I had tried to stop seeing them in London and in other tours would travel elsewhere. Matt didn’t help matters by being a mess, not the endearing kind either. I noticed though he seemed to pick a girl in the front who had been blocked the entire show by a very tall man to sing to and hold. Empire line was stopped a minute in and Terrible Love missed as he had fucked around off stage so much. It just finished abruptly on Mr November.
I’ve seen worse shows where Matt is a drunken mess (Primavera 2014 for example) but London Monday felt so soulless. The Guardian posted a live review saying they ended on Terrible Love and it summed up London. Go for a few songs, get wasted, leave early and tell everyone you were there.
I have to say the best place to see The National is in Dublin. Iveagh gardens are my favourite gigs and Longitude last year was great too for a festival. I had a bit of FOMO for the rest of the London gigs but the set lists were unimpressive and it sounds like the crowds weren’t great either.
I’ve seen them in Spain several times, Germany and Belfast but the majority London as I lived there five years before moving to Manchester. I’m moving back home to New Zealand in November so will be seeing them in my home country for the first time so be interesting to see what the crowds are like there!October 4, 2017 at 5:04 pm #16020
Thank you so so much for your input! Really interesting, and nice to see i’m not the only person to rate the Irish shows. Good luck with the move! All the best, if you ever need anything this end, please do let me know!October 7, 2017 at 11:54 am #16032
I live in Ireland and have seen them 9 times – 2 times Live at the Marquee in Cork, 5 times in Dublin (3Arena, Iveagh Gardens, Longitude, and both Vicar Street shows), the TWFM tour ender in London, and MusicNOW in Cincinnati (which was a weird coincidental timing – my mom died in Cleveland the week before the show, so I was in the state and have friends in Cincy who were going). I also saw EL VY in Vicar Street.
My sample set is very Ireland-heavy and was interested to see that Dublin is a good place to see them. With the exception of the Iveagh Garden show, I’ve always had great experiences and have always found the shows cathartic and transformative and amazing. (The IG show was a case of one drunken asshole nearly ruining the show – it was just my bad luck that I was stood near her.) The Irish are singers (had the good fortune to be in Croke Park this summer, singing along with 80,000 for U2 – it’s just how we roll) and the shows are always great fun. The guys seem to enjoy playing here, at least that’s what they always say and I want to believe them.
All that said, I think they’re still working out the setlists and finding their feet with the new stuff. A lot of it is slower and a bit claustrophobic and doesn’t seem lend itself as much to a live performance. Or maybe they just need more time to figure out the pacing?
My text reports to my Ohio musician friend from the Vicar Street shows:
Sunday night – Show was fantastic. Goofy Matt showed up instead of Agitated Matt. The music was looser and more jam-y, even the older stuff. It sounded good. Lisa H was their backup singer for about half the songs. Best of all, got to hear two songs off my back catalog bucket list – “Baby We’ll Be Fine” and “Lucky You”.
Monday night – I will preface this with: there’s no such thing as a bad National show. But….I’d give tonight 7/10 and only because they played Slow Show and Pink Rabbits plus the encore was amazing. Drunk Matt showed up and while he was funny at times, he also fucked up a few times, once even restarting a song. (I sometimes wonder how much and how often he annoys the rest.) also, the setlist was more front-loaded with a lot of the more mellow new stuff and I’m not sure that works. They switched up the setlist some but still played at least 8 of the new songs, inc Sleep Well Best.
I also really missed the Vanderlye sing-along, which is funny because when I first started going to shows, I didn’t think I was going to like it because I was never keen on the song. But the show gave me new appreciation for the song and I also really loved the community feeling that it inspired.
I’m excited for Donnybrook Stadium in 2018 and have already booked a hotel, so clearly I’ve not been put off my obsession. I hope that the setlist/pacing issues get worked out. And I love that with the teleprompter, any song becomes possible. (Seeing “Son” on the setlist for the Boston show made me feel a unique combination of joy that it happened, sadness that I missed out, and hope that I would hear it live sometime.)October 9, 2017 at 11:03 pm #16051
Thanks for your post! Was really lovely to hear your input, as meaningless as it is, i’m genuinely sorry about your mom. Are you an Irish native or hail from elsewhere? I’ve heard much of the same from friends – the new shows have been amazing, but it’s apparent they’re finding themselves. Guess it’s nice in some ways – I really miss the days where there was more grit and less polish.October 11, 2017 at 3:01 pm #16053
Thank you. Losing a parents sucks and it happens to everyone eventually. :/
I like to joke that I’m American Irish. I’m from Cleveland, Ohio originally. I married an Irish guy from Dublin, and the thing about Irish guys is that you can take them all around the world, but they’ll always want to go home eventually.
I got my husband to live in Chicago for 8.5 years and then he was done, so we moved back to Dublin. Lasted there for 2 years and then I got a job in rural County Cork, where we’ve been ever since. (10 years) I still sound like an American except my vocabulary is localised.October 14, 2017 at 1:00 am #16067
Oh, how wonderful! Chicago is amazing, it’s always a little jarring to go back to dublin for me, I forget how SMALL it really is, but guess moving to county cork is a whole ‘nother Kettle of fish! Hope to cross paths one day, am sure you have a tale or two to tell.October 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm #16101
Here’s my reply, only 4 weeks late…
iamspirals, I am much like you, coming aboard the good ship National around 2011, and promptly falling arse-over-tit in love.
I got the “something-has-happened” feeling with Trouble Will Find Me. I try not to use the relationship analogy too often but I had numerous ‘is it me, or is it them’ moments because whatever I did I could. not. connect. with that damn album like I had with all the others. It felt like the music and I had some amazing times together but now it was over, we’d grown apart and it was time for me to move on.
Agreed some of the album tracks did not work quite so well live, for example I found myself studying absent-mindedly studying Bryan’s drum kit stickers for the duration of Sleep Well Beast. But it is the SWB tour so I can’t complain at the amount of stuff they played from it – even if it would have been nice to have some more from the back catalogue. That said, I was thrilled with Lucky You/Wasp Nest/Secret Meeting.
I think LH absolutely has a point that some of the crowd being shitty and aloof is unfortunately part of the territory with being a bigger band. I’v only ever been to gigs in the UK though so can’t comment on other countries.
I went on the 28th so I don’t know how different your experience was, but for me it felt as raw and exciting as I’d hoped! I’ve fallen back in love!
- This reply was modified 10 months ago by Karin.
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