Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The National and word of mouth

Watching The National playing to a full house at Dublin’s Olympia last night (their second sell-out show in the city in the space of 72 hours), it’s hard to believe that someone somewhere originally thought they might just about fill …

Fri, Nov 2, 2007, 11:38

   

Watching The National playing to a full house at Dublin’s Olympia last night (their second sell-out show in the city in the space of 72 hours), it’s hard to believe that someone somewhere originally thought they might just about fill The Village. That was the venue, after all, which they were supposed to play initially on the Irish leg of this tour.

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Even before the release of “Boxer”, the dogs and cats on the streets could have told you that the band who put on one of the best Irish shows of 2005 had already hit a tipping point and were capable of filling bigger rooms. It seems that even live promoters still don’t know about the power of word of mouth.

Of course, when it comes to promotion, word of mouth is the one thing you just can’t manage which might account for why mistakes like this are still made. Despite some attempts to try to manage the process (depite what Rick Rubin might think or hope), getting you or me to recommend a band or a brand to a trusted friend cannot be forced. And more than radio play, newspaper inches, blog praise or TV exposure, word of mouth is the most successful marketing and promotion channel of all.

I would wager that most of those who saw the band over the last few nights knew all about that show in Whelan’s in November 2005 even though they probably were not there. I mean, they physically couldn’t have been in attendance because the venue just couldn’t have held them all. Yet the rep which that gig gained led people to their last album “Alligator” and a beautiful friendship was born which is all to the benefit of new album “Boxer” and these shows the band are playing. I’m sure those who count the band’s merch take at the end of every live show know all about it.

Last night’s show was a smasher, an occasion when absolutely everything was right. The venue, the sound, the audience and the band combined to take proceedings up a notch at every possible turn. Every song, every note, seemed perfect for the occasion. Matt Berninger may be an unlikely frontman, but there is passion and magnetism galore in his brittle shyness. When he jumped into the audience at the end of the show, you really did fear he’d bolt for the door and not come back for the encore. A magical night out.

(And happy birthday to The National fan and On The Record regular Pedro!)

UPDATE 1 Support act St Vincent rocked.

UPDATE 2 Ian also felt the ground move beneath his feet last night

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