If you’ve been to see the National enough times, you know how those shows can start. The band will start up with one of their churning, cinematic drones, and frontman Matt Berninger will do some heavy brooding. He’ll pace around nervously, and he’ll take his time to get into what he’s doing, to loosen up. But then he’ll get there, and the show will hit some new high. Berninger is a total professional, and he’s performed on TV about a million times. Usually, he can turn it on right away in that situation. But last night, when the National were on Jimmy Kimmel Live, we got a little taste of early-in-the-show Berninger — which, in its own way, is compelling.
Right now, the Kimmel show is in the midst of one of its week-long runs at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music. In the past few nights, the show has hosted Bruce Springsteen and David Byrne. Last night, the main guest was American hero and Brooklyn native Bernie Sanders, and the National were on musical-guest duty. They played “Where Is Her Head,” one of the songs from their 2019 album I Am Easy To Find, and they shared the stage with three singers — Eve Owen, Mina Tindle, and This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables — who all guest on the new album.
“Where Is Her Head” is a curious choice for a late-night performance, since the song is all tension, no release. The three women sang lead for much of it, as Berninger, who was about as well-dressed as I’ve ever seen him, paced around the stage. Berninger — who just announced his forthcoming solo debut — didn’t do a lot of singing during the performance, but he was the focal point anyway. Watch the performance below.
I Am Easy To Find is out now on 4AD.