The National @ Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne (Sun 9 Feb 2014)

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It’s been a very National weekend for us. On Friday night I saw pictures and videos coming in from friends at the Opera House show in Sydney via Instagram and Facebook. Saturday night we watched the live stream of The National playing their second night on the steps of The Sydney Opera House, while Sunday afternoon was spent watching the Melbourne premiere of the Mistaken For Strangers documentary with Matt Berninger in attendance, and then tonight- front row seats for The National live at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne.

What a weekend!

We got to the venue in time to see Luluc, a Melbourne duo who’ve done work with The National’s Aaron Dessner. Honestly, they did nothing for me and am in no hurry to see them again.

After a slightly anxious wait to see if we’d actually be able to make it to the front of the barriers, The National took to the stage and opened with Don’t Swallow The Cap, closely followed by my favourite track off the new album, I Should Live in Salt.

The National live in Melbourne. Feb 2014

The National Setlist Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, Australia 2014, Trouble Will Find Me

The energy of the band tonight was a return to form of the earlier shows we’d seen of The National – the lackluster performance at Splendour last year was not to be seen tonight- The National were on fire.

Scott Devendorf wasn’t in attendance on this tour as he and his wife had just given birth to their first child, so the band had Logan Coale fill in on bass. Not an easy feat, considering it’s not just learning the parts, it’s also fitting into a band of two sets of brothers, one of whom you’ve replaced. Although there were certainly moments where Coale resembled a deer in the headlights, he played his heart out and did it flawlessly.

Bryan Devendorf was his usual sunglassed self- not looking into it, not looking out of it- just doing his thing and playing drum lines only a genius or madman could come up with.

The Dessner brothers were also on top of their game – props to the guitar techs- those guys seemed to be constantly running around side stage, either tuning or setting up, moving microphones around pianos or just untangling leads.

Matt Berninger was far more talkative than at Splendour last year, and I think having seen him that afternoon at the Mistaken For Strangers screening made him seem more ‘real’. I guess I mean that in the sense of not seeing him as what could seem like arrogance, but more looking at someone who lives a very public life most nights, and goes ‘to a place’ to get the job done.

The set followed much the same pattern as the rest of the tour. The only two songs I really would have loved that I didn’t get were Fireproof from Trouble Will Find Me, and Green Gloves from Boxer. I’m sitting here looking through the setlist so I can say “X song was a highlight”, but to be honest, they all were. The set had a great mix from their last few releases with a touch of Alligator and Cherry Tree thrown in as well. The expected first set closer of Fake Empire was spectacular, and the encore of Mr November, Terrible Love and Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks was epic, to say the least. Being front row, we got quite up close and personal, as you can see from the photos and videos below.

It was only six years ago that we saw The National play the small City Recital Hall in Sydney. Since then we’ve seen them on every Australian tour, and this show was an exceptional second place after the mesmerizing Palais show in 2011.

The National are a band I’ll still be seeing every time they tour, and hopefully it won’t be long before we can enjoy a new album and tour from them.

Mr November

Terrible Love

Valderlyle Crybaby Geeks

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went to this 5 years ago

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