Last Friday evening was supposed to be a rainy one at Malkin Bowl. As people were still arriving at this stunning location – which gives the impression of being in the middle of a national park - the opening band The Walkmen started their set. Showcasing an original mix of folk, surf rock and garage rock, the band slowly conquered the crowd with their excellent songs, and outstanding musicianship (a special mention to singer Hamilton Leithauser, one of the best rock singers I have seen live). Their hit single “The Rat” marked one of the high points of the evening.
Then it was time for the main course. The National appeared on stage equipped with great lighting, great sound (something that always happens; the main band sounds way better then the openers, maybe intentionally…), plus a modest horn section and a multi-instrumentalist (violin, melodica, pump organ, etc.) to enhance the atmosphere. Kicking it off with “Anyone’s Ghost” from their latest L.P., “High Violet”, the band immediately made an impression. Personally I was surprised by how energetic the songs sounded live, with lots of guitar feedback and even loud screaming from baritone vocalist Matt Berninger. This was most notorious on “Terrible Love”, which starts their “High Violet” album in a subtle way, but is transformed into an anthemic rocker live.
With a set consisting mainly on material from the previously mentioned album, plus previous classics as “Mistaken for Strangers”, “Abel” and the closing “About Today”, The National delivered a near perfect performance, while showing good humor and apparently having a great time. Despite the forecast, there was practically no rain all through the night, and after over an hour of the band’s somber music, everyone seemed pretty happy.
-Daniel Larrain, Homewerx Manager