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Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeJust a few dates before heading across the pond for a stretch of shows in Europe, The National kept a sweaty crowd packed in at the Riverside Theatre while touring in support of their well-received fifth studio album High Violet.
With a large bucket of ice chilling a glass of wine for lead vocalist Matt Berninger, the band eased into their set with horns bracing Berninger's baritone voice in the new tune "Runaway," before the thundering drums of Bryan Devendorf helped turn up the intensity in "Mistaken For Strangers" from the 2007 release Boxer. At times seeming uncomfortable being on stage, Berninger crooned in "Anyone's Ghost" while brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner added haunting effects on guitar, and in the hit single from the new album, "Bloodbuzz Ohio," the brothers Dessner took to the front of the stage with guitars held high as Berninger began to let loose some built-up energy.
The majority of the set culled from the latest two albums, including a set-ending and incredibly warm version of the popular tune "Fake Empire," but one of the most poignant moments of the evening came by an energized take on "Abel" from the 2005 release Alligator, in which Berninger screamed in refrain, "My mind's not right." Revisiting Alligator in an encore with "Secret Meeting" and "Mr. November," the band ended the show with the opening track off their new album, "Terrible Love," and received marked approval for their entire volume of work.
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