This night always promised to be something special. The National are riding high on a wave of good reviews for their recently released, and brilliant, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’. The surprise announcement that they would play a small intimate date at The Roundhouse in Camden, a venue with perhaps a third of the capacity of Alexandria Palace where they play later this year, caused the venue’s website to meltdown on the ticket release date. The band met the high expectations with an unforgettable and commanding performance.
Local Natives were on first and are a band with a growing confidence in their material which they tore through here in a perfect warm up spot for the main event. The National entered to a rapturous reception and proceeded to lift the roof off for the duration of their time on stage. The band, augmented by two extra members on trumpet and trombone duties, began with ‘I Should Live in Salt’ and raced through a good overview of their most recent three albums; the new songs sounding deeply embedded despite their relative youth. The audience sang every word back to a clearly delighted Matt Berninger adding to a communal atmosphere that saw the band chatting to the audience and cracking self-deprecating jokes.
The many highlights included a raging run through of ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, the beautiful chiming guitar cycles of ‘I Need My Girl’, ‘Terrible Love’ collapsing into noise and chaos, and Berninger staggering and barging through the audience shouting and screaming during the glorious ‘Mr November’. The moment I will never forget was reserved for the final song of the night. The band emerged from behind their microphones, hushed the cheering crowd and led us all through a heart swelling, mass sing along of ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’. This writer is unashamed to admit that the sound of hundreds of people singing “all the very best of us string ourselves up for love” may have reduced him to a watery-eyed mess. It was one of those evenings.