The National rock Roy Wilkins
Just days after Lollapalooza, The National rocked Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, MN with a nearly two hour long show that did not lighten in intensity. At it’s highest, like during “I’m Afraid of Everyone” and “Conversation 16” from the band’s 2010 beauty High Violet, singer Matt Berninger barked out emotionally, two hands on the microphone, spilling side to side on the stand. While the Twin Cities endured a heavy thunderstorm outside, Berninger and company brought their own emotional atmosphere to the block lined Roy Wilkins Auditorium. The stage setup made it feel like they were playing in a big box, each side walled with with lights while the background displayed melting dreamscape videos and segmented close-ups of the band.
From the front center of the balcony, the sound in the Auditorium was not incredible, which isn’t a big surprise for Roy Wilkins. The National were not at fault though, and plowed through their dark catalog with power as Berninger scrambled about, looking lost at times before finding his place in front of the mic. In between songs, the singer was much more light-hearted, several times awkwardly poking fun at himself and the band, including throwing a bag of caramel corn into the crowd at the start of the encore.
The climax of their set was the encore. During “Mr. November”, Berninger jumped off the stage and snaked his way through the entire floor while screaming out the lyrics. Stage hands in the pit lifted the mic cord above the crowd as he made his was across the arena floor before backing into a column near the right concession stand as he kept wailing. After returning to the stage, Matt dedicated “Terrible Love” to a local man who had sent him a beautiful letter before the show. The National finished the night grouped at the front of the stage with an acoustic version of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”.
I left the show on a musical high, imagining how my mind would have been blown if that performance happened at one of the Hennepin Theatres. It was fantastic nonetheless. I also really enjoyed the dynamic set by the UK band Daughter, who opened.
Photos taken for Twin Cities Daily Planet.
The National – Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul, MN 08.06.13 Setlist:
I Should Live In Salt
Don’t Swallow the Cap
Sea of Love
Afraid of Everyone
I Need My Girl
This Is the Last Time
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks
*Matt walked through crowd singing