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The National Showcases High Violet at the House of Blues PDF Print E-mail
Written by DJ Space   
Thursday, 07 October 2010 06:24

The National Showcase When The National rolls into town, the audience can be forgiven for expecting a slow show, but last night, at the House of Blues, Orlando, The National attempted to put the "rock" back into "indie rock."

At times, vocalist Matt Berninger gave the impression that he had once yearned to be a rock singer with The Stones or Troggs as he cupped his mike, twirled its stand, and wandered around a stage lit in an appropriate violet hue looking for stunts while living, breathing and occasionally screaming his lyrics with a throaty howl. Whether Berninger is a natural wild thing, or this was a performance, is of little importance. His eccentric onstage persona added life to each track previously heard in its sedate, digital, studio form.

His Ohio-raised, Brooklyn-based band, consisting of two pairs of brothers: Aaron (guitar, bass, piano) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), and Scott (bass, guitar) and Bryan Devendorf (drums), and other touring members, provided professional support and, at times, guidance to the wayward Berninger, with the Dessner brothers in particular playing in unison and wringing every last note from each guitar lick.

Presenting its only Florida appearance of the tour, the difficulty faced by the band with its approach was that it had chosen to showcase widely acclaimed fifth studio album and 2010 release High Violet, which is not a naturally lively album and generally explores darker themes.  As lyricist Berninger had said previously in an official press release, “We started out trying to make a light and happy record, but it just didn't happen.”

One obvious exception was the bouncing single, "Bloodbuzz Ohio," where driving and energetic guitar solos from the Dessner brothers were evident. The band also managed to breathe life into other album tracks, opening its set with "Runaway" and a danceable version of "Anyone's Ghost." The live rendition of "Lemonworld" had an anthemic feel. "Afraid of Everyone," "Sorrow," "Little Faith," "England," and "Conversation 16" followed, interspersed with singalong highlights from the fourth album Boxer, "Slow Show," and "Squalor Victoria," together with the raucous "Abel" from 2005 album Alligator, leaving the listeners wanting more.

Boxer's "Fake Empire," which the Barack Obama campaign turned into an unstated anthem for its presidential run, completed the set.

The obligatory encore is normally the time when popular groups churn out the big chart hits, and accommodatingly The National opened with a couple of old favorites, "Lucky You" from Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers (2003), and Alligator's "Mr. November," which only last week was dedicated to President Obama at his "Moving America Forward" rally in Madison.

You were left wanting more familiar standards from this band, as the tall Berninger shook hands with the audience and, dismounting from the stage, wandered through the crowd while singing High Violet's opener "Terrible Love."  Back onstage, Berninger was joined by drummer Bryan Devendorf and the rest of the band in a soft chorus of the album's closer "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" to close the evening.

Special guest, Toronto violinist and singer, Owen Pallett, who last year retired his old artist name Final Fantasy, opened the concert.

The National are reissuing High Violet with an additional bonus disc on November 22nd. This new release features live recorded performances of “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Anyone’s Ghost,” and “England.” The expanded version is also planned to include an alternate version of “Terrible Love,” together with B-sides “Sin Eaters” and “Walk Off,” and new tracks "You Were A Kindness", and “Wake Up Your Saint.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 12:28
 
(UK)

Newsflash Archive

In April, following the expiry of its contract with Geffen Records, Weezer announced plans for a deluxe, expanded edition of its 1996 sophomore album Pinkerton. Yesterday, Weezer revealed the details of the Pinkerton reissue, which is due to be released on November 2nd.

"We're always planning and scheming something," bassist Scott Shriner said in the original announcement. Reported by Reuters news agency, he added that the group was also assembling an "Odds and Ends" collection of rarities. "It's a ton of B-sides from a big period of time," Shriner said. "Rivers [Cuomo] has been mostly in charge of picking which songs are gonna be on that." He continued, "There's so many cool things that we've recorded for records that never made the [albums], I think they had to get out there. Finally it's going to happen." At the time, the impression was that this was going to be a separate release.

Even better news is that the two-disc deluxe reissue of cult classic Pinkerton includes many B-sides, rariites, and never-before-released material, as Weezer continues to stoke nostalgia hot-on-the-heels of recent announcements of dates for their Memories (previously known as Blinkerton) tour. Beginning at the end of November, the band is due to play their landmark 1994 debut album, The Blue Album, as well as Pinkerton in back-to-back shows.

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