The National W/St. Vincent @ The Fine Line-09.20.07
You know a show is moving when a song chokes you up even when you are listening through a wall. And that’s just what happened during The National’s stirring sold out show last night at the Fine Line. I was outside on the patio trying to get a bit of fresh air, while ‘Daughters of the Soho Riots’ filtered through the walls, stopping me in mid-sentence and, I’ll admit it, nearly causing me to tear up. ‘How can anybody know how they got to be this way?’ And that’s the beauty in lead singer Matt Berninger’s lyrics-the simple sentimentality without being cloy. And it’s starting to catch on, what with all the recent favorable local articles in-print and online, as well as their second consecutive sold out Minneapolis show. And good for the guys, since they have toiled to build a fan base in this city for years, playing sparsely attended shows at the 7th Street and 400 Bar. And what’s not to love. Their songs are slow burners that are striking in their subtlety, but have a depth to them that is revealed through repeat listens. And that is perhaps what I like so much about The National-I never get sick of their songs, no matter how much I listen to them. Alligator and Boxer have been on a never-ending rotation on my iPod, and I never skip a song. And we were treated to a show filled almost exclusively with tracks from both stellar records-‘About Today’ from the album Cherry Tree was the only song played from their earlier records. ‘Start a War’ kicked things off gracefully, easing the crowd into things a bit, before revving things up with ‘Mistaken For Strangers.’ From there it was a blur of songs filled with emotion and warmth that is really unrivaled in modern music. New fans and old were left reeling from the power of Matt’s lyrics, delivered by a singer that definitely believes in his words. The band adjusted to the slightly larger room quite admirably, probably happy to have more of a stage to move around on then at the 400 Bar. And Padma Newsome seemed to be more of a presence, especially when he played the violin. But all in all, another stellar show by a band at the top of their game. A quick word on opener St. Vincent-I’m not sure many people at the club last night were quite ready for her. Having seen her open for The Arcade Fire in Chicago in May, I knew what was in store for us. But for most of the people in the crowd, a solitary girl with a guitar and various noisemakers on stage took some getting used to. I loved her set, and was lucky to be able to tell her so personally, but I’m not sure the audience was as receptive as they should have been to a woman with a lot of guts and moxie, and an incredible songwriter. Perhaps the crowd held her in higher regard after The National welcomed her out to sing with Matt on the first encore, ‘Green Gloves.’ I certainly hope so. While talking with Bryan, The National’s drummer, after the show, it was clear how much the band appreciated the support Minneapolis is showing them-as evidenced by them playing their second show here in three months. They certainly won over their share of new fans last night, so much so that they might actually graduate up to The Mainroom next time through town, after toiling in the 7th Street Entry for long enough. A first-rate show by a band hitting on all cylinders.
The National Setlist
More pics at my flickr page click here / Slide Show of the National Show
Thanks again Erik for the excellent review! More great reviews coming from Erik in October!! Get ready for a great month of concerts.. Peter Bjorn and John Monday night at First Ave. Cheers -Brody