Real Live Action

The National

with the Walkmen, September 9 @ Malkin Bowl

Review By Katherine Boothroyd

Aside from the fact that there isn’t a refreshing alcoholic beverage to be had on-site, the Malkin Bowl is one of the more pleasant outdoor venues in our fair city. The rain that had been promised held off and at 7 p.m. on the dot, the Walkmen took to the stage. Belting out a rousing version of “In the New Year”, Hamilton Leithauser proved yet again what an amazing vocalist he really is.

Their brand of Americana/indie is as gentle as it is raucous. The Walkmen’s set was littered with gems such as “We’ve Been Had” and the ever gorgeous “Canadian Girl.” It seemed a little odd that they were the support band for the bill as they hold their own and then some. If you haven’t already, please check them out. You won’t regret it.

It was hard to top the Walkmen, but the National did just that. With the sun projecting orange onto the dusty clouds above, the National launched full throttle into their set.

“The Runaway” was captivating, beautiful and so gentle. “England” was performed with wonderful intensity.

As always, Matt Berninger’s baritone voice commanded attention. With Aaron and Bryce Dessner spot on for every song, it was a night of musicianship. The horns and violin were
wonderfully arranged courtesy of Padma Newsome of Clogs. Everyone on that stage knew what they were doing and it showed.

The banter in between songs was particularly amusing. Before launching into “Slow Show” Berninger’s revelation that the wedding favourite is more about his manhood than sweet, dumb love was hilarious. Their continuous profession of their love for the Walkmen endeared them further to an already appreciative audience. It is really hard not to fall in love with the National. They are themselves with no pretense.

And just as promptly as it started, the show was over at 9.45pm. A wonderful evening.