The National

 The National Live At The Iveagh Gardens, Dublin,  18th July 2014

It’s a testament to The National’s increasing popularity that they’re able to do two sold out, back-to-back nights in Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens right after a show in Galway’s Big Top. Which was right after a gig live at the marquee down in Cork. Oh and all that is a mere eight months after they headlined the O2, which in itself was only a few months after their first Live at the Marquee gig. So can we just agree to give them passports and a nice little detached house in a leafy suburb. It could work out easier in the long run!

We arrived just in time to catch the tail end of Phosphorescent’s set. They were good but perhaps not quite as good as they were in the Workman’s Club the night before (full review here, but you can’t read it until you finish this one).

The National open up with Don’t Swallow the Cap. It’s a slow burner, especially after walking on-stage to the sound of The Doors. But that’s ok, The National know they’re in for a long night so don’t want to turn it up to eleven just yet. I Should Live in Salt and The Geese of Beverly Road follow and maintain the leisurely pace.

“This is for my brother Tom”, announces Matt Berninger before kicking everything up a notch for Mistaken For Strangers. As the night goes on each song raises the stakes a little more. The urgency of the drums in Bloodbuzz Ohio pull us in as the cascading cymbal crashes expand the scope and make it feel more panoramic. Sea of Love keeps things going in the same manner with its scattered, frantic energy.

By the time we reach Afraid of Everyone, Berninger is in full primal panic mode, screaming out “I’m afraid of everyone” to the sold out venue. It’s here that the it all tethers on implosion. It all looks like it’s about to fall apart at the seams, and we’re not sure how much of it is planned but it adds an extra layer of excitement.

Things reach fever pitch during Mr November when Berninger grabs his microphone and flees the stage like a wounded animal. He flees straight into the crowd but in the usual sense. He makes a run for it, wired microphone still in tow and begins to circumnavigate the audience before ending up about 120 feet from the stage on top of the wheelchair ramp. Anyone within 30 feet went into instant fangirl mode and in a flurry of cameraphone flashes and the occasional Matt hugger, he is gone. It was unexpected enough that when we turn around to look back at the stage we realise the band haven’t missed a beat.

The night is closed in a very different manner with a chill inducing  Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks lead by a pair of acoustic guitars from the Dessner brothers. It’s a fitting come down from the searing intensity of Mr November.

As Ireland’s unofficial house band leave the stage the venue empties with an overwhelming sense of community, with all in attendance aware they’ve just witnessed something very special.

The National at the Iveagh Gardens Gallery