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The National in Prospect Park again (night 2 review & setlist)

by Johnny Zachman

The National Celebrating Brooklyn (more by David Andrako)
The National

The National played Prospect Park last night (June 18th) for the 2nd show out of 3 at their home-borough venue. Having seen the band perform in so many less fitting places (from Barclays to Big Cypress), it was refreshing to finally catch them again on their home turf. “A lot of our marriages were consummated in this very park,” joked singer Matt Berninger, “right where you’re standing!”

For a long time fan of the band, the show’s setlist felt like a bit of a field day, with “Daughters of the Soho Riots,” “Ada,” “Baby, We’ll Be Fine,” “Lit Up,” “All The Wine” – and even “Exile Vilify” from the Portal 2 soundtrack all performed. We even got a visit by Sufjan Stevens for vocal assistance on “Afraid of Everyone.”

“Daughters of the Soho Riots” was a particular highlight for me. It was performed with incredibly delicate attention and brought the audience to a notable hush. As the song concluded, Matt explained that a moth had flown into his mouth “during the most depressing part of the song,” and as the show went on, the singer seemed to be losing more and more of his voice. “I can feel the moth down there, thinking,” Matt explained a few songs later. “He’s obviously depressed. He’s just walking in circles.”

The National have grown into their signature sound by juxtaposing gorgeous classically-inspired music with a fractured, imperfect singer stuck right in the middle of it all – and I was struck by the fact that the band actually sounded more beautiful when Matt’s voice was completely exhausted. I wasn’t sure if he was going to make it all the way through some songs, especially the relatively high “Pink Rabbits,” but he powered through the 20+ song set with remarkable dedication.

And, despite cutting his head on the previous night, the singer still jumped offstage and wandered through the crowd for both “Mr. November” and “Terrible Love,” stealing a fan’s iPhone and videotaping himself sing the song’s final chorus before chucking the device back onto the stage. In one especially endearing moment, the singer punted a glass of wine into the front row, only to quickly break through his badass bravado to immediately apologize to the people he had wet.

The National has always been so appealing to me because they operate as a band of humans – humans singing about human concerns – imperfectly sometimes, beautifully at others – but honestly always – and on this night, especially during “Fake Empire” when Matt’s wound re-opened and blood started running down the side of his face, they felt even more human than ever before.

Lord Huron opened the show.

Check out pictures from the first night (Phosphorescent opened). Head to Prospect Park now if you’ve got tickets for the third (with opener MS MR).

Night 2 setlist below…

The National in Prospect Park — June 18, 2014
Don’t Swallow the Cap
I Should Live in Salt
Mistaken for Strangers
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Sea of Love
All the Wine
Daughters of the Soho Riots
Afraid of Everyone
Squalor Victoria
I Need My Girl
This Is the Last Time
Baby, We’ll Be Fine
Lit Up
Apartment Story
Pink Rabbits
Fake Empire

Exile Vilify
Mr. November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

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