‘Hard to Find’ fault with The National at Live at the Marquee

Now that Cincinnati’s finest have taken their lovely, gloomy love stories and hitched them to even catchier tunes like last night’s Marquee set opener, ‘Don’t Swallow the Cap’, the buzz is even better than ever.

Dressed in blacks and greys, the only colours that need apply are in the psychedelic ultrasound behind the stage, where we see distorted glimpses of singer Matt Berninger — Ah it’s a nose, it’s an eye, it’s a… beard. Oops!

Certainly in live terms, the bounce of the guitar riffs and in particular the signature sound of Bryan Devendorf’s pounding and playful drums set last night’s crowd bopping to the endless humiliations recounted in the slyly funny lyrics.

A great sign of their most recent album is the inclusion of so many songs that take their place at the top table of The National’s greatest hits.

The concert ignites a few tracks in with their absolute killer anthem ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ from a couple of albums back. That’s followed with a relatively straight-up version of ‘Demons’.

The Cork audience could have been around a campfire for the refrain, “If I stay here trouble will find me”, as the sound of the song itself was given a tougher, much more muscular and aggressive sound.

That works as the perfect cacophony of sound before the achingly cool performance of one of their sweetest things, ‘Hard To Find’.

Another high point was ‘Afraid of Everyone’ — the ultimate geek anthem where the coward of the county makes his last stand “I defend my family with my orange umbrella”. Cork acolytes of The National were certainly appreciative last night that the lyricist has taken the trouble to bring back such grimly funny missives from the nether regions of his consciousness to share with us.

For their part, the band thanked one of their own favourite bands, Phosphorescent, who kicked off the night in support with their psyched Americana — including their bruised and blissed ‘Song for Zula’.

Any band would be proud of that one. Even The National.


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