Last night I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees.

Watching The National live has got to rank up there with one of the most insanely cool concerts I’ve ever been to. It had everything – a breathtaking venue; searingly intense energy from the band; warm humorous interaction with the crowd; and world class music.

For those of you yet to discover the Brooklyn band I strongly recommend getting their albums Boxer and High Violet. And I’m so excited for you! Hurry though, because then you’ll want to get into some of their older stuff, which I am doing now, and then, with much anticipation, their new album will be released. And from the new songs I heard last night it’s going to be exquisite.

The venue – the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side – is one of those old style theaters that you can picture Charlie Chaplin and various other vaudeville entertaining the minds of early 20th century New Yorkers. These days it has retained the décor and architecture from the era, and provides an acoustically excellent setting for live music.

The opening act was a band from Baltimore called Wye Oak. Very impressive. And then the boys from Brooklyn took to the stage, accompanied down the many flights of stairs from their changeroom to the stage by a camera, filming live and playing for the crowd on a big screen behind the instruments, until camera, band and audience were united to rapturous applause.

Rolling out their amazing repertoire of Americana-infused indie rock, they reeled off Bloodbuzz Ohio, Slow Show and Squalor Victoria in one memorable stretch. England came with delicate strings creating a cushion for the music to rest on. Matt Berninger brought his baritone to bear on Fake Empire and a passionate Mr November rounded out a rousing set.



Matt’s distracted and almost headless wandering from band part to band part, almost inspecting his band mates for perfection, filled me with curiosity during the instrumental pieces of songs. There was also a surprisingly warm humor from a band I previously thought of as self-absorbed and introspected. At one point the female guitarist of Wye Oak accompanied The National on one of their songs. Afterwards Matt thanked her and called Wye Oak the best band in the world. She came back on stage to set the record straight, telling Matt that his band is the best in the world (she could be right). He quickly retorted that they were both probably in the top three… just under… The Kings of Leon. Crowd erupts with laughter. Classic.

The encore began with a beautiful new song called I Need My Girl, in which brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner danced a merry dance together on their guitars. Please check this song out, it’s lovely.

The encore closed with Terrible Love followed by a mind-blowing acoustic (no microphones either) version of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. The whole band congregated front of stage and quietly began the song which the whole crowd joined them in singing. A sweet sing-a-long to close a sensational night. Leave me a comment if you like these guys as much as I do, I’ll explain everything to the geeks.