The National, Live at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, MI on Sun, October 8th, 2017
recap written by Adam Podboy, photos by Kris Herrmann
One month after their critically acclaimed album Sleep Well Beast was released The National reintroduced themselves to the city of Detroit. Fans were treated to a much looser rendition of the band than they may have been used to. For a band that gets taken very seriously, frontman Matt Berninger seemed hellbent on establishing himself as the class clown as a way to loosen up the reigns that have been tied to himself. His slapstick antics found their way into the show as he smacked himself in the head with the microphone and threw a mostly empty cup of wine into the crowd. Berninger also took a few stabs at stand-up as he said “Day I Die” was being developed into a children’s book and said that “Carin at the Liquor Store” was a good song to get another drink during. It almost seemed at times that the rest of the band faded to the background as everyone focused on Berninger and wondered what mischief he would create next. But the band didn’t let Berninger steal the spotlight as they played unhinged in all the best ways. New solos were added to old songs, guest musician Shara Nova of the band My Brightest Diamond joined the band on several songs, and guitar interplay between the Dessner brothers was a sound to behold.
Somber and serene songs like “Nobody Else Will Be There” and “About Today” were balanced with songs like “Turtleneck” and “Mr. November” that created the feeling of a train ripping down the tracks barely holding itself together. Side projects were snuck into the show in the form of The Grateful Dead song “Morning Dew” from the compilation album Day of the Dead co-produced by guitar players Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and a short drum sample to close out “Slow Show” from LNZNDRF (drummer Bryan Devendorf and bassist Scott Devendorf’s side project) song “Beneath the Black Sea” that gave fans a taste of what the band had been up to during their time off between albums. Audience members had their chances to join in on the experience as Berninger waded through the center aisle to the back of the room (and into the lobby) to sing “Terrible Love” amongst fans resembling people unsure of what to do if a zoo animal had escaped from its exhibit and with an unplugged sing-along to “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” to close out the show.
Fans were treated to quite a rollercoaster of feelings and expressions that made the show quite more entertaining than many had bargained for, the fan in front of me who complained at the beginning as people began to stand certainly got more than he was expecting. Next time The National rolls into town, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. They may be at the top of their game right now, but that doesn’t mean they will be slowing down anytime soon.