The National Conquer Toronto

April 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm (Uncategorized)

Bit late with this one…sorry

In general, I prefer to go to venues where I can see the colour of the singer’s eyes. I just don’t like the big sites. That said, if your favourite band has grown to such size that they won’t play those beloved tiny clubs, Massey Hall is not a bad bet. It holds a little over 2,700 people, and last week, the National sold out the place three nights in a row.

I’ll confess up front I wasn’t particularly familiar with the band, but what little I heard was interesting. I just wasn’t quite ready for the adoration of the crowd.

First up were England’s Daughter. They seemed to straddle two groups, but belonged to neither:  Too poppy to be shoegazers, too speedy to be dream-poppers, but definitely influenced by both. The slower songs dragged a little, and the pieces that worked best happened when the band pushed rave-ups. (the last couple of songs in their set built to satisfying conclusions).

The National strolled onstage more or less on cue, with singer Matt Berninger, wine glass in hand, looking a lot like that hip university professor you liked.  In fact, during the set, Berninger paced the stage rather liked a professor delivering a lecture.

The band played through their archives with what I assume according to the crowd reaction were fan favourites. They seemed louder and rockier that the tracks I’d heard, and that seemed to be what the audience wanted. People rushed to the front even before the band appeared, and the momentum built throughout the set.

After a generous ninety minute set, the band return to play a four-song encore. I wouldn’t describe myself as a fan of the band before or after the show, but sometimes it’s nice to go to a show without a sense of the band and go home happy.


Set list (from

1. Don’t Swallow the Cap
2. I Should Live in Salt
3. Mistaken for Strangers
4. Sorrow
5. Bloodbuzz Ohio
6. Sea of Love
7. Hard to Find
8. Afraid of Everyone
9. Conversation 16
10. Squalor Victoria
11. I Need My Girl
12. This is the Last Time
13. Wasp Nest
14. Abel
15. Slow Show
16. Racing Like a Pro
17. Pink Rabbits
18. England
19. Graceless
20 Fake Empir


1. Humiliation
2. Mr. November
3. Terrible Love
4. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks




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