Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The National, Forever Cemetery, L.A., 12 August 2013

You know a band has made it when their World Tour is announced and you receive not one, but four invitations to see them across the globe on the one day. In my case I received various requests to see them at shows in L.A., Helsinki, Amsterdam and London and I settled on the L.A. gig.

The first thought that I had when I knew that I was heading to L.A. was that I needed to get to a live gig in this town, I mean there is such a rich music history here that I needed to at least see one show there. I also wanted to see something at the famous Greek Theater or the Hollywood Bowl but alas this was not to be this trip. But where I did get to see a band was at a venue that I think my have been as infornatly spectacular and that was the Forever Cemetery.

Right from the start the evening had an L.A. feel to it and that was just what I wanted it to be. Whilst my friends scrambled to find the tickets in the L.A. mansion we were staying in (on a very famous road below the Hollywood sign) a large SUV was ordered to pick us up and take us to the show. So finally with our tickets securely located we jumped in the black man mountain of a car and headed to the show. And as I would expect in L.A. upon arrival we drove past the 4,000 people waiting in line and drove in through security and into the venue and jumped out of the car barley having our tickets check (no bags checked) and started to walk in the almost “empty” venue.

As we walked to the stage area you saw the many tombstones adorned with pictures of the dearly departed staring back and realized that in L.A. even the dead want to be remembered and seen on a regular basis and whilst this felt a tad bit strange it also had a feel of L.A., that somehow that felt normal here.

We then threw down our blankets, unpacked our picnic, opened the wine and took in the surroundings of a very beautiful setting sun over the palm trees in the cemetery. 

The support band was a UK band called Daughter who I had tried to see a couple times in Amsterdam with no luck. They managed to punch out a really good set of tunes that I thoroughly enjoyed, prompting me to grab their latest Vinyl EP for a mate and thus both supporting an emerging band and making sure someone enjoys some new tunes.

It is very fare to say by the time the National took the stage that most of the crowd were “very relaxed” and rather mellow. And where last time I saw the band, Matt, the lead singer appeared to be rather manic, this time he seemed controlled and more comfortable with the place he was found performing. Yes it may have been a bit les “Rock and Roll” than previously, but what they lacked in charging into the crowd and climbing up on the balcony, they made up for with fantastic lighting, and an exceedingly professional performance.

This show in L.A. would entail about 25 songs, spanning all of there albums. And whilst I have my favorite tracks it is very noticeable that the songs off the new album appeal to me much more now that I have seen them performed live. It was a great mix of tracks needed to be heard and exposure to the new that I wanted and dare I say needed to hear and a four-song encore was enough to leave me wanting more but not being disappointed.

I think the opening track from the new album was excellent “I should live in salt”, as was their version of “England”. But just the same as last time it was the live acoustic version of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” that bought the house down and took my breath away. This time the band was joined on stage with the members of Daughter for another beautiful rendition of this song.

And I think I can say that with all honesty that all previous ghosts of the last performance from these guys that I have witnessed in Rotterdam were left behind on this night in the L.A. cemetery. They are clearly one of the best bands going around at the moment, and will go from strength to strength getting better and better.


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