Friday, March 12, 2010

The National Played The Bell House: Pictures, Review

The incredibly lucky few who scored tickets to The National at the Bell House last night were treated to one of the better shows in recent memory. In the past few years The National have played BAM, Hammerstein, the vacuous Terminal 5, and they’re booked for Radio City Music Hall on June 16th. In other words, bigger and bigger venues to accommodate their ever-expanding fanbase. But in our opinion, the Bell House is the ideal venue for their brand of moody, literate chamber rock. Plus, this was a true hometown show: lead singer Matt Berninger gave a shout out to his wife who was unfortunately home sick just four blocks away.

The surprise show (which will reboot again tonight) was a chance for the band to try out several songs from their upcoming album High Violet - playing them live for the first time in front of a small group of hardcore fans. The band was loose, self deprecating, and clearly happy to be playing fresh songs. When Berninger stumbled on the lyrics to 2007's "Start a War" he laughed and said "that one's just so old."

His sardonic banter with brother guitarists Aaron and Bryce Dessner scored laughs all night, while he drank from two different bottles of white wine (handing what was left of the first to the crowd.). At one point Berninger picked up a stage light and cradled it while he sang. Toward the end he jumped into the crowd during a triumphant version of "Mr. November."

The National ended their encore with the first single from High Violet, "Terrible Love" which they played on Jimmy Fallon's show earlier this week. It sounded to our ears like an instant band classic ala “Fake Empire” and “About Today.”

New York City indie rock crowds can be cold, snobby and hard to impress: not this time. The mood was euphoric walking out into the Park Slope night, where a barbeque was fired up outside. Everyone was truly grateful they were there – which really was a little surreal given no one even knew about the show until just a few days ago. We envy anyone who will be there tonight for the second show!

Words and Pictures by Chris Goldberg

Many more pics at the
HAD Archive


Hanan said...

I should definitely go to the fox theatre show, yes?