The National – Academy of Music-Philadelphia (MM-10)

After you've seen a band 9 times, the expectations around the 10th concert are certainly special. Not because you wonder what you would see this time, in the end you know what to expect. However, the desire of making this show special, one to remember, is certainly there. The National played Wednesday night (Sep 7, 2011) at the beautiful Academy of Music in Philadelphia, as part of the Kimmel Center concert series. An amazing opera house that appeared to be just right for the occasion, a venue that feels and looks certainly different to the 9 different stages I’ve seen the band before, exceeding by far my expectations for the night.

No objectivity should be expected from this post. Everyone knows The National is by far my favorite band, being the main soundtrack of my life for quite sometime now, describing my hopes, dreams, anxiety and love. But, one thing was clear from the beginning. Since the time I heard them live from the first time, I never doubted they would make it to the top and it always seemed clear they would reach that place only accessible to a few… For once, I was right.

Seeing them now, feels just right. The struggles early in their career about reaching to people, about finding their audience seem so foreign now. Their show nowadays tells a different story, one about a successful band, “favorite” to many. A band that through great music, strong lyrics and powerful performances captivates the audience, which, as seen on Wednesday now expands through a range of cultural, age and social groups. Their concert this week not only surprised me again, but it also showed me that even now when they’ve achieved success, they approach things with that subtle, natural and mature approach that made me follow them in the first place. Attending my 10th The National concert at a perfect venue, on a weekday date with my wife, in the city that for many reasons has become our home was certainly special after all.

The set-list could not be better, and included some of my all time favorites. Songs like “Brainy”, “Slow Show”, “Son”, “Sorrow”, “Green Gloves”, “Abel”, “Fake Empire” were well scattered through the night. This tour, which appears to be in its latest stage, represents for the band about 12 years of playing together. And probably because of this, the band has included old songs on a regular basis at the core of their live shows. “Son”, a track from their very first album is a clear example of this. This song has been one of my favorites for years and hearing it live for the first time on Wednesday was certainly special. Also for the first time, the band decided to close the night with an acoustic version of a very personal song “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”. Here, the audience softly joined the aching chorus “All the very best of us, string ourselves up for love”, a perfect ending to a great night.

I leave you with the set-list and a couple of videos of that wonderful night. First “Sorrow” a favorite of many, followed by “Terrible Love” where Berninger jumped into the audience going across the seats of the Academy of Music. Finally, a clip of “Son”, which also includes "About Today" from the recent Latitude festival in England…this one to those “fans” scratching their heads and looking for this song in their failed ITunes library...




The National - Set-list
Academy of Music – Philadelphia
Sep 7 2011

1. Runaway
2. Anyone's Ghost
3. Brainy
4. Bloodbuzz Ohio
5. Slow Show
6. Squalor Victoria
7. Afraid of Everyone
8. Conversation 16
9. Little Faith
10. Son
11. Wasp Nest
12. Sorrow
13. Abel
14. Green Gloves
15. England
16. Fake Empire


17. Think You Can Wait
18. Mr. November
19. Terrible Love
20. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Sorrow – Academy of Music Philadelphia

Terrible Love – Academy of Music Philadelphia

Son / About Today – Latitude Festival

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