The National @ Webster Hall, NYC [5/21/06]
I like being pleasantly surprised at shows. It doesn't happen often.
And it certainly didn't happen during the opening set at last night's National show at Webster Hall. I had heard opener Baby Dayliner described as an indie "karaoke" act, but I really didn't expect that to be a literal description. Unfortunately, it was. For 45 minutes we were forced to endure one dude on stage, putting on the best Morrissey impersonation he could, from vocal affectation to hairdo to poofy white shirt, singing along to a freaking tape of wanna-be Morrissey songs, without an instrument in sight (except for The National's setup). And, guess what? It was 10 times worse than it sounds.
That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the set put on by The National. Although I've been listening to their latest CD, Alligator, pretty religiously for most of the last year, I had never caught The National in concert before, and I was somewhat worried how their primarily low-key, late night and a pack of cigarettes music would translate.
Well, I needn't have worried. The band was excellent. And while not every song made the live transition as well others (particularly in a large room like Webster), I was amazed just how tight the band was and how good the songs sounded. What also amazed me was how big the songs sounded at times -- I actually found myself comparing them to The Frames on one or two occasions. And, in case you haven't figured out yet, that's a great comparison coming from me. When they played "Abel", I thought the place was going to explode. Great stuff. Can't wait to see them again.
A few pictures with very poor lighting: