The US band played their biggest ever headline show in the UK last night (November 26) at The O2 Arena
The National paid tribute to London’s Buffalo Bar during the final date of their ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ world tour last night (November 26) at The O2 Arena.
The Brooklyn-based band dedicated ‘Mistaken For Strangers’ to the beleaguered London venue, which has been open since 2000 but will close its doors for the last time on December 31. For The National’s biggest ever UK headline show the band were joined by Sufjan Stevens, who performed with the group for the duration of their performance.
“It was 12 or maybe 13 years ago that we first played in London,” said frontman Matt Berninger early on in the set. “We’re surprised we’re here.” Speaking about Stevens’ role in the band, Aaron Dessner of the group explained that the guest artist had written the vocal parts for ‘Conversation 16’. Before launching into ‘Squalor Victoria’, Dessner joked, “He wrote the vocal parts for that last song (‘Conversation 16’) and I accidentally stole this song from him.”
The band continued to pay tribute to London during the gig, explaining that they were signed because of a show in the UK capital. “It’s a massive honour to do this kind of show for you guys,” said Berninger. “London has been our second home.” Contemporary classical musician Nico Muhly also joined the band as a guest performer on ‘About Today’, while Sufjan Stevens performed an excerpt of his own song ‘Chicago’ during ‘Ada’, much to the crowd’s delight.
Matt Berninger referenced the band’s six-hour long performance of 2010 track ‘Sorrow’, which took place last year at New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 venue ahead of the evening’s rendition of the track, and dedicated ‘Abel’ to his brother on his 35th birthday, commenting “He doesn’t like any of our slow songs.” Tom Berninger directed the 2013 film Mistaken for Strangers about the band.
Returning to the stage following the main body of the set, the band’s encore saw Matt Berninger descend into the crowd during ‘Terrible Love’, walking through the standing section of the audience and then climbing up to the first tier of seats. Following this the whole band then took to the front of the stage for a group rendition of ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’, at the climax of which Berninger finished by stagediving.
The National played:
‘Don’t Swallow the Cap’
‘I Should Live in Salt’
‘Mistaken for Strangers’
‘Sea Of Love’
‘Hard to Find’
‘Afraid of Everyone’
‘I Need My Girl’
‘This Is the Last Time’
‘All the Wine’
‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’