The National, 10.11.13 Dublin – #NTNLDUBLIN

Despite the Arsenal loss to Man Utd., a positive vibe stirred around Dublin.

Hotel, check.

Guinness, check.

Samuel Beckett Bridge, check.


Got in the O2 early as it rained above Dublin from clouds filled with honeyed drops of aqua that makes everyone in this buzzing city so darn friendly.

This is Kit was playing Two Wooden Spoons to sporadic groups of standing ticket holders.  Us the less fortunate seat ticket holders were too high up to appreciate the sombre, folk-rock intensity of this band; they are probably not known to many, but they are going places.

And then.

Bass and drums in harmonious unison kick off the concert of The National via Don’t Swallow the Cap in front of two amazing backdrops.

  1. Matt Berninger ‘s baritoned refrain and…
  2. The fucking amazing visuals and lighting.




Cap was followed with an admittedly harder song, I Should Live In Salt. An assured performance it weren’t.  Salt leaves off where High Violet finishes making it a favourite of mine on Trouble will find me (the album introducing me to The National).  I’ve therefore given it a higher benchmark.  Maybe it should be changed to make it less studio song, more live version.  Nonetheless, assured or not, it served an important purpose for what was to follow.  The way in which Salt was performed stated to us all, the thousands that were there, that Berninger was shit-faced!  Out of his skull so much so that I thought he’d lose it at some point.  It was a performance as anxious, desolating and gloomy as the band’s lyrics.  But – and here’s the magic – I couldn’t help but join in with the ‘boozing’, edge of your seat character that the night would ultimately have.

This is a band that reached maturity a while ago (hell, I heard of them after their fifth album).  So, in front of thousands of people, on a global, successful tour they were telling us that they can play shit-faced if they want because for years, as a less known indy band, that’s probably what they did anyway.  They weren’t going to change now.


And so it went all night.  Incredible visuals.  Riffs and Berninger sounds and antics filled with statements.  A world touring band staking a claim at its deserved position.  It became clearer while they were playing England and I could not get the thought out of my head until they encored and finished with their anthem, THEIR anthem, vanderlyle cry baby.

“Thank you Michael” says Matt.  “We can take over from here”.

REM, the bastion of American progressive rock for a while now should rest assure that The National has, after a long – 6 albums in fact – arrived.

Back to the sweet wetness of Dublin buzzing, and hanging from chandeliers.