I'm The New Blue Blood, I'm The Great White Hope.
The National - Live at The Koko -Camden, London
This gig was initially mean to be taking place at The Scala near Kings Cross ( a fabulous old converted Art Deco cinema) but due to the huge demand for tickets it was switched to the fairly recently opened Koko Club in Camden. It has almost become my second home in the last couple of weeks as this is my third trip having seen The Shins and The Decemberists there earlier in the month. It is a strange venue. It is in the old Camden Palace building which was once a theatre and isn't the most accessible of venues. It has a downstairs dancefloor type area but the rest of it is made up of several levels which I suppose must have once graced the posh tickets when it was a theatre. The sound is pretty good though, for a venue of this type.
I first heard of and saw The National at last years Reading Festival and they were one of the best things I saw. I have since bought a number of their recordings including last years magnificent Alligator LP. This was a huge hit with the critics, especailly those at Uncut magazine who voted it their album of the year, which you must admit, is quite an accolade. Therefore it was with eager anticipation that I dragged Jock Pop along to the gig. He had heard bits and pieces of the band and as one willing to take a punt was happy to go along with me.
Thing about The National that strikes you when you see them live is how much more energy and feeling they portray in contrast to the recorded stuff. Don't get me wrong, Alligator is a fabulous record, but it is fairly laid back at times (or a dirge if you listen to what Lily has to say about. She likes R n B. Nuff said!). However, live, they really do kick some arse. Wonderful layers of sound from two guitars, bass, drums and violin wash over you. It is a magical experience. The sound was beautifully balanced last night too. You could actually hear all the parts. It wasn't just a noise.
Highlights for me were the brilliant 'Wasps Nest' from Cherry Tree and 'Mr November' from Alligator. The sight of Matt Berringer screaming into the mic and the majority of the 1500 crowd singing back 'I won't fuck us over, I'm Mr November' while dancing in the mosh pit was brilliant. The finale saw both guitarists lay down there axes against the speaker stacks and let rip with their effects peddles. It rocked I can tell you, such a sweet noise hasn't been heard this side of a Mogwai gig.
I strongly recommend The National. Great miserablist music with a swagger.