Mistaken for Strangers might already have been on The National’s setlist last night, but my conversation with Aaron Dessner – casually taking in the support act with the regular punters – surely cemented its place. The brief encounter involved a requesting of the song’s inclusion; followed by our sharing of world’s lamest fist bump and concluding with The National’s guitarist assenting to my – probably unnecessary – sycophantic begging. Mr Dessner appeared the sort of chap who valued his own company above that of others, so it was providential for him that he went strangely unnoticed by the rest of the ‘fans’.
‘Oh, this sounds pretty good’ is roughly the extent of my musical insight so if you’re here expecting an in-depth, reasoned analysis of The National then it’s perhaps best to seek out a more
pretentious knowledgeable blog. Thankfully, opinions make the world go round so I’m just about entitled to mine – however hideously ill-informed it may be. Despite an inability to explain whatever story the music was regaling us with or adequately describe the melodic beauty of the notes the band hit, it was still profoundly obvious they were putting on a heck of a show for johnny-come-latelies (me) and seasoned fans (my pals) alike.
In all seriousness, The National somehow managed to exceed my stratospheric expectations. From my amateur perspective, the songs were ace and the atmosphere was electric. Classics like Bloodbuzz Ohio, Slow Show, Fake Empire and Mr. November were inevitably great; less heralded songs Squalor Victoria and Start A War brought the house down; unexpected inclusions on the setlist like Lit Up and Lemonworld illuminated the middle portion of the concert and the band’s acoustic crooning married with the audience’s droning on encore finale Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks proved a fitting conclusion. Oh, and Mistaken For Strangers was even more awesome than I ever imagined it would be.
Of course, there were some minor downsides including the bloke in front of us who appeared to have stumbled into an Oasis concert by accident and the respective expense of The National merchandise and O2 Academy beverages. The jobseekers allowance does not quite allow for purchasing (admittedly very cool) £25 t-shirts and also struggles with the price of a pint of Carlsberg. Anyway, the next dole cheque is in hand tomorrow so I’m sure some other extravagances on which to squander it can be easily discovered. Onwards and downwards.