Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The National @ Fopp


I wouldn’t normally write about gigs in record shops. After all, they’re not proper gigs, innit? But this one on Monday was a bit different. For a start, The National played for about an hour, and even did an encore! None of the usual few-songs-throwaway promo set then. Also, for the band at least, it seemed to be significant. Singer Matt Berninger told us that this was their first headline show since last October (all their recent US performances have been in support of Arcade Fire). There was a muted response from the crowd. “It’s a big deal for us though” he defended. Sure, it’s an odd place to start a tour in support of new album Boxer, but then again, said album was freshly-released that day, and on sale upstairs.

Just because it was an instore show, didn’t mean that The National held back. I’ve already spoken in praise of Boxer and it is (increasingly for me) a great record. But it’s still live that they really come into their element. The warmth on record is still there, but there is added emotional energy and intensity, and Berninger manages to be a compelling frontman without actually doing that much. Even more impressive for me though, was multi-instrumentalist Padma Newsome on stage right, playing keyboards, violin and even more instruments than I could properly see with a pillar in the way.


The band played most of Boxer, which sounds excellent live, and a couple of oldies for good measure – Abel in particular sounded fantastic. Then they rounded off with what they claimed was the very first live performance of Gospel.

So all of that, plus my failure to make it to the Astoria show last night, means that this particular instore is well worth writing about. The National are always well worth seeing live, and Boxer is certainly well worth buying. You know what to do.

Download: The National – Fake Empire
Download: The National – Abel

Buy Boxer.

Picture from the Flickr photostreams of (the appropriately titled) Mr November and Rahaha. I figured my crappy cameraphone wasn’t up to it.

They’re back in London at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 7 November. Hopefully I can get to that one.

4 comments:

Matthew said...

It seems sort of strange to get a proper gig in a record shop.

I am definitely going to go back and try Alligator again, and properly this time. Boxer is such a good record.

Brooner said...

It was a really great show, having not heard anything off boxer prior to that I was most impressed. Most instores at Fopp tend to be pretty full affairs, its brilliant (especially as its a few minutes away from where I work). Kristin Hersh, Malcolm Middleton & Simple Kid have all played really long shows there.

Blonde Redhead on Monday too, should be good.

The Daily Growl said...

Yeah - it's a surprisingly good place for an instore gig. Maybe it's because it's not in the middle of a shop, like with HMV and Virgin. The sound was good too - better than some gig venues I've been to! I'll be back for more shows there, for sure.

Rahaha said...

it was a great evening. Thanks for the photo credit!

rahaha x