Opening night of the six that The National will be playing at the plush Beacon Theater did not disappoint. The first guest opener was The War on Drugs who were fresh from their sold out show at Bowery Ballroom the night before. WOD put on a sonically interesting (but visually dull) performance - a mix of weaving, trippy layered guitar and saxophone. National frontman Matt Berninger joked that the name of the band is somewhat misleading because they were doing a tons of blow backstage before the show. War on Drugs played for 40 minutes before abruptly leaving the stage without a word.
At 9:10 the house lights went down and "Wild Boys" by Duran Duran began thumping over the PA system as a live feed of the band enjoying last minute dressing room banter was projected onto the stage's backdrop. The band emerged and opened with the brooding "Runaway" followed by "Anyone's Ghost", both from High Violet, and then "Mistaken For Strangers" from Boxer. You can see the full setlist below.
The variation of the band's back-catalog was perfectly appropriate with songs like "Available" from Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and "Mr. November" from Alligator, along with two 'new' songs: "Rylan" and "I Need My Girl". Perhaps it was the grandeur of the venue, the 31st NYC room they've played, but the on-stage chemistry was a bit off. The music however was exceptional,
After Matt had stage walked over the orchestra's seats, and accidentally had his leg trapped between the seats, there was still time for an accapella version of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" at the front of the stage as the entire audience were invited to crowd around (I wish they had done that at the beginning). The overall-amazing show ended at 11:00 PM on the dot.
Sharon Van Etten opens the 2nd show at the same venue tonight (12/13). More pictures and the setlist from night one, below...
War on Drugs
The National setlist
Mistaken For Strangers
Afraid of Everyone
I Need My Girl
Venderlyle Crybaby Geeks (acc)