toronto day 1: the National concert

I previously covered the train ride to Toronto.  after our dinner at the Chinese restaurant, my parents took our three boys back to the hotel, and my wife and I jumped back on the subway to head back to Union Station, followed by a short walk after that to the Air Canada Centre (where the Toronto Maple Leafs play hockey) to see the concert.  my wife had bought the tickets a few months ago as my birthday present – but the 2 closest shows were either Chicago or Toronto, and my parents love to visit Toronto so they volunteered to join us and watch the boys during the concert, and then spend a few days sight-seeing with us.

concert tickets and a transit day pass

we missed most of the opening band, but I had never heard of them (Wye Oak) so I wasn’t too upset.  the 2nd opening band was Neko Case – she and her accompanying band were pretty solid, but I only knew two of the songs they played (Hold On, Hold On & Red Tide).

after a brief break, the headlining show came on stage – it was The National, probably my favorite band right now.  I can (and do) listen to them almost every day – I have all of their albums loaded onto my little iPod Nano, and I can just set that on random and listen all day.

the National live at the Air Canada Centre

here’s a photo I snapped with my iPhone – it’s a tad grainy, but you can see the large projector screen they had set up behind the stage, to show video of the band members playing live or in this case, random video shots that went with the song.  I believe this was during their song Abel.

I kept track of the songs – noting at least the main lyrics in case I couldn’t remember the song title, and then figured out the correct songs when I got home.  here’s the setlist:

  1. Runaway  
  2. Anyone’s Ghost
  3. Mistaken for Strangers
  4. Baby,  We’ll be Fine 
  5. Bloodbuzz Ohio
  6. Slow Show   
  7. (Drum solo) Squalor Victoria 
  8. Afraid of Everyone 
  9. Conversation 16 
  10. Son
  11. Apartment Story  
  12. Abel
  13. Sorrow
  14. I Need my Girl (live debut of a new song)
  15. England
  16. Fake Empire


  1. Rylan (live debut of a new song)
  2. Mr November 
  3. Terrible Love 
  4. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks (acoustic, no microphones)

it was a fantastic concert, I knew all of the songs – except for the 2 new songs, and it was pretty awesome to be at the concert where the 2 new songs made their live concert debut.  my wife doesn’t listen to The National as much, but she said she did recognize about half of the songs, and she enjoyed the concert as well.

I got lucky with my iPhone, and the 2 songs I tried to get video for were the 2 new songs – the video quality isn’t great, but the sound quality was surprisingly awesome.  in lieu of me trying to upload them to Youtube, though, here’s a live video of the new song “I Need my Girl”, unveiled on Q Live in Toronto at the Glenn Gould Studio on the same day as the concert we attended.

and here’s a good review of the show from Jesse Kinos-Goodin of the National Post. I certainly agree with this:

That came just in time for The National to unveil two surprises — a new song, I Need My Girl, and the addition of Canadian Owen Pallett, whose syncopated violin perfectly complemented the finger-picked guitar and heart-breaking lyrics (Pallett should definitely be featured on the studio version of this track when it’s recorded for the next album).


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