The National is an American rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio, that formed in 1999. In Sept of 2017, Forbes Magazine proclaimed Sleep Well Beast the year’s best rock album. The band members include Matt Berninger (vocals), twin brothers Aaron Dessner (guitar, keyboards), Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott Devendorf (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums).
Talented photographer, Jana Early in an exclusive for Carbon Copy captured the group’s dynamic performance on November 28th 2017 at The Paramount Theater in Seattle Washington.
Please enjoy Jana’s review of the show followed by her outstanding images.
“I thought that this would all work out after a while…,” sings Matt Berninger, frontman of The National, in his mystifying and soothing voice. After 7 albums and almost 20 years playing together, it seems to be working out just fine for them where we all sit – or stand if you are me and can’t possibly sit through such an emotionally evoking experience as seeing The National live.
In case you’re wondering, The National is as gripping as they have ever been. Their recent show here in Seattle was a non-stop rush of emotion for the few thousand that gathered at the beautiful and historic Paramount Theater. The sound, the lights, and the performance was as potent as whatever was in Matt Berninger’s red plastic cups that evening.
They took the stage in their usual fashion, being followed by a camera from backstage to mainstage for all of the theater to watch on the big screen, waiting in anticipation, knowing exactly when the musical legends would appear. They played songs from their new album, “Sleep Well Beast,” as well as past favorites from their lengthy repertoire. For those new to The National’s music, you may get the impression that their live show may not be all that exciting; they have a penchant for heartfelt piano ballads and drowning guitars, all sung in Berninger‘s low, tranquilizing voice. However, you would be surprised to find that their shows are powerfully intoxicating; a vast sea that you cannot help but be swept up in. From Aaron Dessner’s shockingly vigorous guitar riffs in “The System only Dreams in Total Darkness,” to the driving and unpredictable beats of drummer, Bryan Devendorf, in “I’ll Still Destroy You,” you are brought into a massive and beautiful soundscape with Berninger as he swaggers about the stage in a controlled trance. You may even find yourself being serenaded, face-to-face with Berninger; he has the habit of meandering through the audience, dragging 100’s of feet of microphone cable behind him, until he’s singing from the lobby. He always comes back, though. And when the band eventually returns for their encore, they end the show by leading the audience in an acoustic singalong of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.” As we stand there, singing the line “all the very best of us string ourselves up for love” at the tops of our lungs, it is an atmosphere of pure joy and camaraderie; and at that moment… we are all in this life together.
The National is still touring the “Sleep Well Beast.” I highly recommend that you get to a city near you and see what the fuss is all about.
Written by Jana Early