The National’s love-in with Ireland grows deeper
If the American band aren’t enough for you, how about support John Grant, Lisa Hannigan and Villagers?
The strong connection between The National and Ireland goes back 13 years. Cofounding member Aaron Dessner recalls that their first jam-packed show took place in Dublin venue Whelan’s. “You could feel the energy and spirit were there,” he told The Ticket some years ago. “So much was being given to us by the audience, and without wishing to be horrifically cliched about it, Ireland is definitely one of the countries where we feel the most connected with our audience.”
And then there was The National’s performance at Dingle’s Other Voices in December 2010, which has subsequently been afforded God-like status by anyone who witnessed it. The band’s gig at St James’s Church, Dingle, took place at the end of a lengthy European tour. “Everyone was definitely ready to go back home, but when we arrived we could feel a change occurring. Everyone relaxed and woke up at the same time. So, yes, The National knew it was special and we clicked into that.”
In the intervening years, Aaron’s brother, Bryce (also a member of the band), has made several visits to Ireland, notably working in collaboration with the Cork-based festival Sounds from a Safe Harbour. It’s a good bet that the band members know their way around the country, which is why negotiating the roads from Dublin Airport to Donnybrook will be a breeze to them.
As good as The National are as musicians who can fuse crescendos with harmonies (and in doing so can raise you up so high into the sky you could part the clouds), you have to tip a hat to the smart people who selected the special guests for each show. The support acts for Friday, June 15th, include Jay Som, Preoccupations, John Grant and Lisa Hannigan. The Irish singer-songwriter, in particular, has form with The National via her collaborative involvement with the Dessner brothers during Sounds from a Safe Harbour and the whole band on a recent Longitude show.
The presence of Grant – another regular visitor to Ireland – has surely sold more than several hundred tickets. Meanwhile, acts as high-quality as Jay Som (LA-based lo-fi dream-pop songwriter Melina Duterte) and Preoccupations (Canadian post-punk band) only add to the sense of occasion. There is a similar embarrassment of riches lined up for the following day (Saturday, June 16th), when Villagers, Cate Le Bon, Rostam, and Dream Wife perform.
Dream Wife, a forceful UK-based punk rock trio once described as having “the attitude of New York punks and the pizzazz of disco queens” are followed by imaginative songwriter and producer Rostam (aka Rostam Batmanglij, former member of Vampire Weekend), Welsh alt-pop songwriter Cate Le Bon and Ireland’s smartest bearded songwriter, Conor O’Brien, aka Villagers.
Of course, all of the so-called support acts are moreish morsels before the filling main course. Anyone who has seen The National before will know what to expect; those who have yet to will have the pleasure of remembering their first time for years to come. Gates each day open at 2pm, which means these shows will be as much a day out as an enduring display of the best of contemporary left-of-centre pop and rock. A time, as they say, will most certainly be had.
- The National, Friday 15th/Saturday 16th, Energia Park (formerly Donnybrook Stadium), Dublin 4, 2pm, €136/€76 ticketmaster.ie. Saturday sold out