Saturday, June 07, 2008
The National at the House of Blues San Diego
I will be the first to admit I missed the boat on The National. My friends kept mentioning that I would enjoy their music but it wasn't until I picked up their latest album Boxer that I realized I was missing out on some compelling music. I was eagerly looking forward to catching their warm up show at the House of Blues San Diego prior to their cross country tour opening up for R.E.M. and Modest Mouse.
I wasn't surprised to see Ferraby Lionheart backed by 3 of the 4 members of the omnipresent Dawes. Ferraby was also accompanined by an upright bass player and a slide guitarist to round out his mini orchestra. "A Bell and Tumble" amicably rambled along as Ferraby delicately strummed his acoustic guitar. "Small Planet" from his album Catch The Brass Ring was a piano fueled ballad with Ferraby's wistful vocals. Dawes did an excellent job filling out the sound of Ferraby's songs. Ferraby will be doing a mini tour supporting Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide.
The jagged guitar notes of "Brainy" were weighty as Matt Berringer's voice rightfully dominated the mix at the House of Blues San Diego. The tension of "Secret Meeting" was divine as the combination of piano and plucked out guitars showed that The National was more than ready to open for Modest Mouse and R.E.M the next night at the Hollywood Bowl.
Aaron and Bryce Dessner (Guitars) impressed me with their guitar abilities as they did a large amount of fingerpicking of guitar notes and played some unconventional chord voicings. The National didn't rely on a wall of amplifiers to create their massive sound but instead used some Fender amps and a few well chosen guitar pedals. "Squalor Victoria" turned things up considerably at Matt became extremely animated as the song built up emotional steam. Matt's intensity continued to build as he crushed "Abel" viciously singing "My mind's not right!"
"Mistaken For Strangers" was performed with a sharp intensity as small bursts of guitar feedback accompanied the mini horn section throughout the tune. The distinctive bouncy piano notes of "Ada" rang with extra resonance as Matt's voice never wavered. I was starting to kick myself for not seeing The National all the other times I had a chance. "Mr. November" brought things to critical mass as Matt completely lost himself on stage and was wildly moving about the stage. The crowd would not let the band go off stage as The National closed out the night with "You've Done It Again, Victoria". The National is a band that shouldn't be missed when they come to your town.
The National setlist at the House of Blues San Diego (5/28/08)
"Start A War"
"All The Wine"
"Racing Like A Pro"
"Mistaken For Strangers"
"Daughters of The Soho Riots"
"You've Done It Again, Virginia"