Friday, 9 November 2007

Squalid Victorians

The National: Shepherd Bush Empire 8th Nov 2007
To west London (relax I’ve had my jabs) to a concert. I’m going to commit the crime we all accuse the rock press of doing, in that I had no clue what the National were like until they first struck up. It might seem odd but my friend A invited me along and I hadn’t been to gig in a while, so I went along. And boy am I glad I did. (To continue the clueless theme I haven’t looked up anything for this review so it will be short on song titles etc.)

We got to the venue late and saw only a bit of the support act Broken Family band who were good but didn’t really engage. One clue guys if you want to win crowd over maybe the bass player should stand up and look a bit more interested! Just an idea!
Bass how low can you go?

After the usual wait The National ambled on. I’d heard from A that the lead singer had a deep voice and was expected something like Stuart Staples from the Tindersticks but he sings slightly higher and is less pub singery. That being said he was quiet a character, a tall fair type who had a lot of Forrest Gump about him with strange stiff arms sort of like autistic kid at an air show. But for all this shyness and stiff clapping he could sing and move with the crowd impressively. I’ll need to hear the lp to get the lyrics clearly but at one point he seemed to be shouting “squalid Victorian” repeatedly, along with tales of having painted finger nails, astronauts and waiting for "the English" to arrive. The vocals went from light crooning to cathartic screaming it was truly impressive, he seemed to just let go.
"Now do some pointing.. "
The singing was backed by an excellent band, anchored by a tight rhythm section. Next was your standard looking but excellent sounding American indie guitarists and last but not least a keyboard/viola player. The later had the air of an adult Ed pottery teacher, but played his fiddle closer to John Cale than the devil came to Georgia, which was very good. Sadly he’d taken keyboard lessons from School of Rock jerking about as if his synth was badly earthed. The National's music was the whole post Joy Division, Elbow, Doves loud quiet raga thing and was stunning. I was really impressed. They must be doing something right as there wasn’t the annoying hubbub at the bar and even the morons texting and chatting in the crowd were reduced. So in conclusion the National are great and I must go and listen to their album now!

Here’s a idea for their next album cover a top café just of the Bush.

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