|All photos by Agatha Donkar|
Yesterday, North Carolina did its best to make sure we didn't get to see the National's fiery 23-song set at Raleigh Amphitheater -- the entire Triangle was under severe tornado and flash flood warnings that ran well into the concert's 7pm start time. But aside from a little drizzle during openers the Dirty Projectors, the weather held off, and not only held off, but produced a rainbow across the sky about five minutes before the band came on.
(The only regret I have about the lack of rain is that, if we had in fact had a downpour, the National might have played "90-Mile Water Wall". Which would have been worth the rain.)
I have been lucky enough, as I suspect many of you are, to watch the National grow up over the last five years, hopping venues from 500 to 1000 to 2500 to last night's rapt crowd of 5000, and whenever I see them live, I am bowled over again by the power of their songs, and their absolute command over a stage. The Amphitheater in Raleigh is set down right on the edge of downtown, and they filled the seating bowl and the sky and the blocks and blocks around them; it was one of those sets that felt like it was being offered up like a prayer.
It was such a strong, compelling set, from start -- the fierce rush of "Don't Swallow The Cap" -- to finish -- the goose-bump raising acoustic, un-micced "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" -- that felt heavy on songs from Boxer, to my delight, and it simply underscored, for me, that this band has been making tremendous, life-shaking music for a very long time, to be able to pull so broadly from such a lovely catalog.
Photos are below; I hope they come somewhere close to showing the power and beauty that this show had.