LIVE REVIEW: Owen Pallett, The National @ Pomona Fox Theatre 10/16/10
Canadian singer, Owen Pallett, is a keyboarding, violining, electrical looping, satin-smooth singing wonder-boy. With the help of a percussionist/guitarist, Pallett manipulated his instruments using a foot sampler to loop and transform the two-piece band into arrangements that sound as if they had been created by an orchestra. In addition to showcasing his effortless music talent, he was delightfully humorous and engaging, even offering to answer questions from the audience. After playing seven-ish songs including “Lewis Takes Action” and ending with “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt” he shared that last night was his final performance with The National. If you missed this performance, Los Angeles, no sweat! He will be returning to the LA area to perform at Echoplex on Sunset Blvd. on October 22nd.
With the gentle step on a bass drum, the glow of a soft-bluish spotlight, and the tender plucking of a guitar, Pomona Fox Theatre was transformed into a religious cathedral as the sweet baritone vocals of Matt Berninger began the night with angst-ridden “Runaway”. In an instant concert-goers were swept into another realm of spirituality, which continued for 90 minutes and included songs both old and new by the five-piece Brooklyn band, The National.
Accompanied by a soul-penetrating horn section as well as an additional multi-instrumentalist, The National performed nearly every song off their latest album, High Violet (sans my personal favorite, Lemonworld… sigh). As if working through his own tormented soul, Berninger thrashed about on stage, at times pounding his chest and pacing the floor, as well as wielding the mic stand like a weapon. One could nearly feel his demons through his screams on “Squalor Victoria” or during “Terrible Love” as he parted the seas of the audience walking deeply into the center of the floor. Then as if sensing the audience’s need for levity from his lyrical hauntings, Berninger added comedic relief with commentary such as, “That one is hilarious!” following the gut-wrenching “Sorrow”.
In what has become the single most breathtaking concert experience of my life, The National ended their show with an unplugged, nearly-religious rendition of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”. After the band reached the front of the stage, shadowed by Owen Pallett and his violin, Berninger belted out his gut-wrenching lyrics in unison with every audience member in the theatre. It was as if he was speaking directly to each one of us individually, and we wept.
Music lovers set out in search of magic and what they found far surpassed even their wildest dreams. Simple words will never be able to fully express the overwhelming night we shared together with The National at Pomona Fox Theatre.
More photos by Frank Palmer of the National