The National Brings Trouble to Ithaca

Not real trouble, just their excellent 6th album release, Trouble Will Find Me. The melancholic rockers have a penchant for making doldrums sound so damn good and have created yet another great album with Trouble.  The NYC based band,  Aaron (guitar and keyboard) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums) and singer Matt Berninger, began their North American tour is Ithaca, NY and treated us to a long set of music and this Blurter was there to capture it all!

For their sixth LP, Trouble Will Find Me, The National began their tour to a sold out audience at Ithaca’s State Theatre. Taking place before the album’s release date, fans reacted most eagerly to songs from albums past; however, the general audience reception was unfortunately muted, with only scattered pockets of highly enthused spectators. Perhaps it was the-curse-of-the-seated-venue, the lack of older favorites, or the fact it was a Thursday night that led to a calm audience, because the talented quartet put on a solid performance with great visuals.

As Aaron (guitar and keyboard) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums) and a wine glass-brandishing singer Matt Berninger graced the stage the audience cheered and applauded. A large monitor filled the stage behind the band; abstract shapes in bold colors and live close up shots of the band performing, with a washed-out, photonegative effect, filled the screen. Of their 21 song setlist, The National played half old and half new material. Trouble Will Find Me proves to be an overall calmer affair than previous releases, prompting the audience to sit for the quieter moments and, during the faster paced older material, dart out of the seats. “Mistaken for Strangers,” “Fake Empire,” “Afraid of Everyone,” and especially “Conversation 16” pleased the crowd.

Very few words were exchanged between the crowd and the focused band, with Bryce and Matt occasionally thanking the audience for the support before leaping into a new song. After finishing a track someone from the balcony shouted, “Good job, Matt!” The audience chuckled as Berninger replied, “Thanks Dad” before going into a joking rhetorical conversation from the point of view of his dad: “Where are you going, Matt? That’s the wrong goal, Matt.”

The night was not yet over. As the band returned for an encore, a hoard of audience members approached the front of the stage. Berninger grabbed his bottle of wine, approached a fan in the front row and shook his hand, then gave the lucky individual the bottle. During the encore Berninger jumped off the stage and joined the audience, surprising fans in the balcony as he finished singing the last song of the night, “Terrible Love,” beside them. Though more somber songs were played than desired and the ever-fun, high octane “Abel” did not make the cut this evening, The National put on an enthralling live show.

Setlist:

Don’t Swallow the Cap
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Sea of Love
Afraid of Everyone
Conversation 16
Demons
Heavenfaced
This is the Last Time
Mistaken for Strangers
Daughters of the Soho Riots
Apartment Story
Pink Rabbits
Humiliation
I Need My Girl
England
Graceless
About Today
Fake Empire

Encore:
I Should Live In Salt
Mr. November
Terrible Love

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