Sunday, February 24, 2008

Encore, Encore: The National @ BAM

The National; My Brightest Diamond
@ Brooklyn Academy of Music Howard Gilman Opera House
Brooklyn, NY - February 23, 2008

The National took advantage of the excellent acoustics at the BAM Opera House on this, their second of two nights closing out the Brooklyn Next festival. Backed by strings, reeds, and horns (and on "Ada" by Sufjan Stevens), in front of beautiful backdrops, and in a gorgeous piece of art & architecture that is the opera house, the band made a very strong case for the superlative "best band in the world". Though it is a title not given to any band out of the cause of mental health, these guys really are taking a stab it.
The enthralling, enchanting voice and aura of Matt Berninger, singing his peerless lyrics, provide the depth and direction for the bedrock, original sound of the band. They articulate his words in song just about as good as he can himself. This is one successful arrangement. And when he's off running into the crowd, standing on arm rests to pound out "Mr. November", the band is holding the fort down on stage. When he's, whether he admits it or not, essaying the definitive capture of these times in this country in "Fake Empire", they are finding new ways to build a chamber of ethereal and heart pumping sound. And when they all work together as the unit they are on the now classic "Abel" or the towering, perfect "Apartment Story", it is simply the best. Period. The best.
Only 1 disappointment: No "All The Wine". Scandalous.

My Brightest Diamond, the project of Shara Worden, was a quality choice of an opener for this particular kind of show. A hybrid of classical, opera, cabaret, American Gothic, and punk (yes that reads like a description of an electronic-less Bjork but there is some originality here of the first order), this is an acquired taste even if one is aiming to see even a symphonic chamber rock band like the National. If you have the patience, this will work for you. It also helps to be in the setting that it is in.

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At February 24, 2008 at 10:31:00 PM EST, Blogger nyctaper said...

I posted a recording of Friday night's National show on my site.


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