The National @ Paramount 09.20.13

September 21, 2013

Friday night the National performed in front of a sold out crowd at the Paramount.  It was the second night in a row they had sold out the theater.  This was the first time I had seen the National perform so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Security in the photo pit gave me a heads up that singer Matt Berninger had been pretty rowdy the night before and that I should watch out for flying mic stands.  I usually take those warnings pretty seriously as I've had some moderately insane photo pit experiences (see here for an example). 

The show started in what I consider to be one of the more brilliant methods I've seen.  On a giant screen near the back of the stage a live, closed circuit feed shows that band and their guests in the dressing room getting ready for the show.  The camera follows them down the stairs (who knew backstage at the Paramount was so huge!) and ultimately out onto the stage.  It provided a much more intimate feeling for such a big show. 

The show began and the first thing that caught my eye and blew me away were the magnifent, awe inspiring lights.  As a photographer I have got the utmost respect for a band that puts a lot of thought into their light setup on stage.  This was as good as I've seen.  "So far so good" I'm thinking to myself.  As the first song progresses it occurs to me that the band wasn't nearly as rowdy or "dangerous" as I had been led to believe.  Matt appeared very melancholy and somber to me with very little movement on stage and a deep, hypnotic voice.  As the 2nd and ultimately the 3rd song progressed (that's all I'm allowed to stay for) not much changed. At times between singing Matt would pace the stage back and forth like a caged animal showing some buried intensity but I never got to witness it materialize.

On my way out I heard him say that he had a severe cold.  Apparently on Thursday he had dosed up on Dayquil and chased it down with a lot of wine.  "Then the show happened" he said with a chuckle.  That explained the behavior that security had told me about I thought.  For Friday's show he went to to say he switched things up and tood Sudafed chased by bourbon.  Hence the somber, melancholy stage presence for the first 3 songs.  It all started to make sense.

It's hard to form an opinion about a band and a show after just 3 songs so I'll leave it at that and let you enjoy the pics.  I would love to read your feedback about the show and the band if you were at either show, please leave some comments below. 

My curiosity is definitely piqued. 

Mat Hayward
My FB (Like It!)

Scottish band Frightened Rabbit opened the night and put on a really great show!

The National....