Vocalist Matt Berninger anxiously paced the Greek Theatre stage last night, plodding around pregnant with a secret that had him on the verge of collapse. As the rest of The National played through each heart tugging anthem they built a strong, resistant sonic wall behind him. This smooth water belying the storm-on-the-horizon dynamic is quintessentially The National’s act.
One look at Berninger’s face is all that is needed to understand the fragility of what he’s cobbled together. Every song feels like the protagonist is in peril, every victory fleeting. The beauty of the music is in that same message that the balance of life is delicate. Looking at each triumph and defeat through Berninger’s lens reveals a steady comfort that can only be had in the realization that ups and downs are only momentary and everything will eventually come back to center.
As an opener The Lone Bellow were a perfect fit. Polished to start the night while letting that paint chip to reveal stronger emotion as they went on — playing as the sunset fit the transitional nature of their music. The band played a range of tunes from acoustically lead ballads to blues style rock, leading into the night and peaking as the crowd filled the seats.
Words/Photography: Ben Irwin