The National Fort York, Toronto ON, June 4

The National Fort York, Toronto ON, June 4
Photo: Shane Parent
As clean and airtight as their playing was, the majority of the National's set didn't stray terribly far from what the thoroughly engaged audience expected. Frontman Matt Berninger played showman yet again, abandoning his smooth, near-monotonous vocal delivery to push his range out of its comfort zone for "Squalor Victoria" and "Mr. November" and kneeling for one final sing-along to "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks." The trio of horn players (which Berninger affectionately called "the brasshole") provided welcome colour to "I Should Live in Salt" and "Fake Empire."
However, the few surprises they did work in were welcome. Like Holy Fuck earlier in the evening, Berninger called a special guest to the stage midway through the set in Hayden Desser, telling the crowd about how influential Desser's music was on a trip he had taken to India that was rife with romantic trouble. Lining up alongside the band with guitar in hand, the two traded verses on "I Need My Girl," with the crowd singing along. "We were originally going to change it to 'I Need My Boy' and share a mic, but he didn't want to do that," Berninger joked afterwards.
Having revealed that they were at work in the studio on a new record as of last August, the band also included a few fruits of their labour, with two new tracks in "Sometimes I Don't Think" and "The Day I Die," the latter of which was marked by its urgent guitars and repetitive chorus question that Berninger attributed to none other than Sid Vicious: "The day I die, where would you be?"