Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Im The Great White Hope

Posted by xneverwherex on December 15, 2011

The National
Sharon Van Etten
Beacon Theatre
12/13/11

The National have returned home (well across the river anyway) to finish up the year with 6 nights at the Beacon Theatre. These are the final shows for the latest album, High Violet. It seems like they have been out supporting this album now forever. But the time has come, and this is it.

The National came out to what felt like the longest version of Duran Duran’s ‘Wild Boys’. Finally, after the entire song had played the guys came out to a fairly sedated theatre. They opened the set with ‘Start A War’ which is a pretty slow song and not a bad way to start the set. Continuing with the Boxer album, they went right into ‘Brainy’ which was beginning to get the crowd excited. Slowly, people started getting on their feet.

The National

Matt joked about the prior night with some people standing, some sitting, random parts of the theater doing their own thing. And encouraged us to do what we wanted. At this point everyone was standing in the orchestra. Sadly, it was not the case for the upper levels. The sound was just beautiful in the Beacon. It filled the entire room with Matt’s soaring vocals. The Dessner brothers sounded really great on guitars and keyboards.

As with most of their shows, there were a few special guests. Conrad from Takka Takka was an additional drummer who played the entire set. At one point it sounded like they were introducing an ‘Andy’ Clark, but nope it was actually Annie Clark of St. Vincent. While she isn’t Sharon Van Etten (who is, really?), she did add some nice harmonies. She performed with them on ‘Im Afraid of Everyone’ and ‘Sorrow’. I wasnt sure those songs needed her (well esp I’m Afraid of Everyone), but it was great to see her accompany them.

As always Matt made a few appearances in the crowd. He did come over to the section that I was at and was hanging on the stairs but no one even seemed to pay him any mind. It was sad and beautiful all at once and then he was back in the front singing in another corner. It always has a nice feel to it, even if its become part of the stage show.

The visuals and lighting worked out quite great. Unfortunately for Sharon Van Etten, there was a heavy spot light on her, that had you seeing dots in your eyes after about 5 seconds. But that was gone, thankfully! With the backdrop screen of images of the band members and the crowd, you were always able to see the entire band and the guests.

It was great to hear them introduce Sharon Van Etten who came out for a proper encore with them on ‘Think You Can Wait’. And from that they went straight into ‘Fake Empire’ which always sounds amazing live. Other highlights included ‘Abel’, but really to the girls behind me, how do you talk through that whole song. The crowd was revved up and peoples hands in the air and singing along. It is one of my favorite songs performed live along with ‘Mr. November’. Sure, theres songs I didnt get to hear ‘Mistaken for Strangers’, but with all the times Ive seen them, I seriously cant complain.

Easily the very last song was the crowning moment. The band had left the stage only to come back center stage with Annie Clark, Sharon Van Etten, and of course, Wye Oak. I wasnt entirely sure it was them but it sure was! ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ was just beautiful. Sans microphones and the entire band huddled together was a pretty awesome way to end the night.

And while Ive mentioned her a few times, I can say that Sharon Van Etten always sounds amazing! She has some of the strongest vocals. Her songs are great and kick-ass and her new guitar, oh yeah, looking pretty sweet. And of course, it meant we were treated for a song or two with Aaron Dessner. The pair of them make beautiful music together.

For those hoping for one last time, (for now), its highly recommended. The shows arent sold out and theres an abundance of tickets around. Not that Im one to actually promote using stubhub or the like, but since theres so many shows now, it seems you can get same day tix for $17. Either way, if you havent yet seen them, there still is time.

Setlist:
Start a War
Brainy
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Squalor Victoria
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Rylan
Abel
Lit Up
Wasp Nest
Sorrow
Anyone’s Ghost
I Need My Girl
England
Mr. November

Think You Can Wait
Fake Empire
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

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