Last night saw The National battle sound problems for a powerful and career-spanning set to kick off their four-night residency at The Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London. See photos, footage and the setlist below.
Taking to the stage shortly after 9pm, the band opened with ‘Nobody Else Will Be There’ – the first of 10 songs from their acclaimed new No.1 album ‘Sleep Well Beast‘. ‘The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness’, ‘The Day I Die’ and ‘Turtleneck’ were already landing like firm favourites.
Backed by an impressive light and stage show of moving LED screens, the band also delivered raucous renditions of older numbers – including early crowd-pleasing highlights of ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’, ‘Afraid Of Everyone’ and ‘Squalor Victoria’. Frontman Matt Berninger was in his usual energetic and menacing performance state, often invading the first few rows of the audience and even climbing up the drum kit for volatile rendition of ‘Abel’.
Other highlights came with the band’s breakthrough single ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, along with support act This The Kit lending backing vocals on ‘Born To Beg’, and when the band aired ‘Alligator’s ‘Daughters Of The Soho Riots’ for the first time on this tour.
Looking out into the vast space of the Apollo, the Dessner brothers on guitar paused to joke about their earlier gigs in London – recalling a time that Berninger once hung from the air conditioning unit at the Camden Barfly at the start of their career.
Beyond that, banter was largely kept to a minimum – aside from an incident during the encore when Berninger appeared to be experiencing sound difficulties. While sound from the stage towards the audience was unaffected, the difficulty he was having with his in-ear monitors came to a head when he angrily halted the track ‘Empire Line’ halfway through and told the crowd: “It probably would have sounded shit anyway”.
Leading the crowd into an emotional chorus on ‘Slow Show’ before the triumphant closer of ‘Mr November’, Berninger then made his way to the back of the standing area as he charged through the audience as he hand and into the awaiting arms of fans.
The band’s Hammersmith residency continues tonight.
The National’s setlist was:
Nobody Else Will Be There
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Walk It Back
Don’t Swallow the Cap
Afraid of Everyone
I’ll Still Destroy You
I Need My Girl
The Geese of Beverly Road
Carin at the Liquor Store
Born to Beg (with This Is the Kit)
Day I Die
Daughters of the Soho Riots
Empire Line (abandoned mid-song)
Earlier this week, The National also covered ‘Love Vigilantes’ by New Order while performing in Manchester.
The National’s remaining UK tour dates are:
September 26 – Eventim Hammersmith Apollo, London
September 27 – Eventim Hammersmith Apollo, London
September 28 – Eventim Hammersmith Apollo, London