Entertainment Music

Sunday 18 February 2018


eamon sweeney

the national

the marquee, cork

The last time The National played in Cork, less than 50 people shuffled into the relatively tiny basement of the Triskel Arts Centre. Millions of album sales later, they're capable of selling out 5,000 tickets in the Marquee in just 10 minutes. There's also a further Dublin date in the O2 in the pipeline.

Their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, was only held off the top spot by the ubiquitous retro funk of Daft Punk, but fans have clearly taken the melancholic sixth album by the Brooklyn-based band to heart, singing their hearts out to the moody and magnificent opening track 'I Should Live in Salt'.

Initially, the sound is ever so slightly on the wobbly side, but the stage and its backdrop looks great. The National's eye-popping feast of visuals looks like the kind of lavish production Radiohead might bring out on the road.

One of their best-known and loved songs 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' is dispensed with surprisingly early in the set. It's an audacious move, but they've more than enough nuggets in their back catalogue to pull off a two-hour long blockbuster.

'Secret Meeting' is given a rare airing and the band's rapid capacity crowd are delirious. Singer Matt Berninger, right, goes walkabout in the crowd for a frantic 'Mr November.' His band sound terrific, squashing any early doubts about the sound.

The surprise package from the new album, which Berninger describes as a collection of "happy songs about death", is a mesmerising rendition of 'Pink Rabbits', which sounds like a slightly drunk cousin of a classic Broadway song.

'Fake Empire' is world famous as the song Barack Obama chose when running for the Oval Office in 2009 and it sounds immaculate. Well-known Whelan's of Wexford Street character Joe Nicholson gets a mention, as Berninger announces an unexpected and touching dedication.

The very mention of the capital does not seem to go down well with some of the natives, but you can hardly blame Berninger for not grasping the peculiar nuances of this petty inter-city rivalry.

This somewhat amusing blip aside, it's an exceptional gig from a band who are spectacularly on top of their game. 'Vanderlye Crybaby Geeks' is a deeply moving swan song, prompting a mass sing-a-long as the band file off stage to a deafening roar.

I had slight reservations about The National playing the O2 in November, but after witnessing this highly emotional performance, it's safe to say that they'll conquer such spaces with spectacular ease.

Irish Independent

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