On 2nd July 2008 at 21:44 Anonymous 5801 wrote...
Great review Kate.
Live at Leeds Metropolitan University on Tuesday, 1st July 2008
Atmosphere makes a big difference. As the crowds amass at the Met this evening, there seems to be an almost tacit consensus amongst the crowd that we're all here to be unashamed music lovers and, dare I say it, geeks. For a few whimsical hours, it entirely ceases to be about a scene or being seen: it's simply about being wholeheartedly swept away by what music really means.
Even the reaction to support act Caroline Martin is a case in point. She is, unusually for supports, awarded with considerate silence and a fair hearing. What we are given in return are some fragile acoustic songs, complete with vulnerable vocals. The performance itself is well polished; Martin's voice is virtually flawless and perfectly suited to her morose folk style, and the vocal contributions of Roger Tarry are also impressive. What is problematic in the set is a lack of mood and tempo variation from song to song. It can be gruelling to be bombarded by one track of melancholic introversion after another; it's certainly not a set to be recommended to the macabre amongst you. Even a small suggestion of positivity or light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel mentality would make this a lot easier to absorb.
The National take the baton next. All beautifully chiming delayed guitars and lush orchestration - showing that merely one trumpet, one trombone and a lone violin can add a completely different dimension and gargantuan depth - The National prove themselves to be a truly special live band. Musicianship is second to none, and equally the band have a very engaging charisma. Frontman Matt Berninger's jaunt across the barrier to hand out water appears to be a hit with the overheated audience. For me, however, the real winner is the band's evident sheer delight in performing live. Despite nearly ten years as a unit, they show no signs of stagnating, obviously finding fresh enthusiasm every performance. Songs from each stage of The National's career come across tonight as even more stunning than on record; punters can similarly find fresh enjoyment and interpretations every performance. It serves as a perfect reminder of why we ever bothered to go to large-scale gigs of international touring artists in the first place. It doesn't seem out of step to apply the term 'perfect' to tonight. Then again, we never really expected anything less.