Notes from The National, live at the Ogden Theatre, Denver, September 18, 2007
Dear The National,
You are a band on the rise, and if your new release "Boxer" did not win over Denver, your show Tuesday night at the Ogden Theatre went a long way towards conquering another town. You brought a much fuller and rocking sound to your entire catalog, providing a memorable live set that was wonderfully different from your albums. I actually enjoyed every song better in the live setting, that is, except for my two favorite songs of yours: "Fake Empire" and "Slow Show." "Slow Show" was adequate and perhaps on par with the album version. "Fake Empire," however, seemed abbreviated for a song that begs to be stretched and was not nearly as exhilarating as the recorded take. Yes, you didn't have room for the grand piano that graced the stage of your Letterman performance, but where was the horn section? At the very least, lead-singer Matt Berninger could learn to play the small trumpet part as the song crescendos, seeing as when not singing he has little else to do (note: this is actually a good thing most of the time as he doesn't try to distract the audience from the band). On a more positive personel level, drummer Bryan Devendorf is a terrific whirlwind of activity who may somehow define the phrase "restrained relentlessness." Newcomer, multi-instrumentalist Padma Newsome provides a winning touch with his athletic violin playing that added another level of crescendo to many of your songs.
On a slightly sour note, your fans in Denver are absolutely annoying. Perhaps I spoke prematurely about winning over the town, seeing as a good deal of the crowd seemed to treat the show like a networking event, talking constantly throughout your set. Even two of your "friends" - girls who had band passes and talked to/hugged Berninger seconds before their set - were not above this distracting and disrespectful activity. Also distracting from your set was a pair of Dave-Matthews-fan-esque girls whose atrocious dancing lacked any form or beat. Also, also, distracting were the idiot twenty-somethings behind me who, although coming to like the band they knew nothing about, made smarmy, smart-alike comments throughout the show in a form of impress-the-girl-one-ups-manship. Oh yes: also, also, also, distracting was the ear-piercing whistling and poorly timed hollars of the above mentioned pass-holding girls. Perhaps your band show have a more careful screening process when admitting fans into the venue.
P.S. Regarding your opener, St. Vincent: I actually semi-enjoyed her album "Marry Me" but she sounded terribly grating last night. I could see your sound mixes being wildly different, but perhaps allow her some leeway in fine tuning her own mix. Otherwise she may alienate every audience to her talents, as she seemed to do Tuesday night. Of course, she may just not put on a very good live show.
the National - D.C. show review