The National Live Debut Title Track Of New Album

The National is having a moment.

After not making any new music since 2019, suddenly in 2023 they're gushing with a wide assortment of new tunes, including some of their best ever.

In April, the Ohio rockers released First Two Pages of Frankenstein, an album Rolling Stone said it has, "a blanket of sound — strings, oboes, chiming guitars — lays underneath pretty much every track, thickening as the songs reach their climaxes."

The biggest chunk of material from The National's show (six of the 28 songs ) at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Saturday was from that album that boasted guest appearances from Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers and Sufjan Stevens.

But the marvel is the second album they dropped this year, Laugh Track, the band's 10th effort since their self-titled debut in 2001.

It's a marvel because it's just as good as First Two Pages. Begging the question, how many bands can still bring it with their 9th and 10th albums?

AC/DC's 9th and 10th albums are arguably their worst. Springsteen's was Lucky Town and Human Touch (both of which were also dropped in the same year.), both bad.

Elvis Costello's 10th and 11th both came out in the same year, 1986, and were dazzling: King of America and Blood & Chocolate. So it can be done.

The National are doing it and Saturday in their five-song encore they live debuted the title track from Laugh Track to a lucky crowd.

The luck only continued with the next tune, Mr. November, when this guy got serenaded to quite intimately.

The National doing "Mr. November" in Leeds

The show ended curiously with another song from the most recent album, "Space Invader." James Fenney of Bellwood Music was equally surprised by it's place in the lineup.

"The stunning ‘Space Invader’, and the Dessner brothers’ duelling guitars, ended the night on an explosive high (a little while after curfew)," he wrote. "A brand new song holding a spot in setlists usually reserved for big fan favourites, and fitting utterly perfectly, just sums up how exquisitely crafted The National’s live shows are. Having a unique setlist every night is a delight in itself, but what takes it to the next level is the knowledge that whatever hand the band deal you is a winning one."


The National are in the last few weeks of the European leg of their tour. In November they hop back to the States for eight dates. Then next year they head to New Zealand and Australia. Who knows, maybe they'll have an eleventh album ready to go by then.

Tickets are available at the National website.

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Last updated: 29 Nov 2023, 11:11 Etc/UTC