The National Live at Sidney Myer Music Bowl 5 March 2024

The National on stage Sidney Myer Music Bowl 5 March 2024

Beautifully warm Melbourne night for the first of two sold-out shows for The National.

Sydney singer-songwriter Annie Hamilton opened the show with a half hour set of low-key confessional tunes, including menacing new single “Talk”. Fleet Foxes were next up with their harmony rich indie folk, opening with “Sunblind” from their most recent release Shore. As a nod to the headliners, their just over an hour long set, smartly included “Phoenix” their 2021 collaboration with Big Red Machine the occasional side project for The National guitarist Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon.

The National kick-off their show with a fantastic “Sea of Love” before moving into newer material from 2023’s First Two Pages of Frankenstein “Tropic Morning News” and “New Order T-Shirt”.

With the band playing two shows at The Sidney Myer Music Bowl, pre-tour promotion had promised different shows each night, so it was great to see the band reach into their extensive back catalog to feature “Baby We’ll Be Fine” and “Lit Up” from 2005’s Alligator back-to-back mid set.

Happily as its one of my favorite The National albums, this show also featured a string of songs from 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me, with the more mellow “I Need My Girl” and “Pink Rabbits” providing a change of pace from some of the more up-tempo material.  It was also great to see Annie Hamilton take the stage during the main set to join the band for a duet on “Rylan” from I Am Easy To Find. As is becoming customary, the show finished with all members of the band at the front of the stage for an acoustic run through High Violet’s “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”.

Having gained more and more popularity, it’s admirable The National seem to be determined to find ways to break down the traditional barriers between audience and artist. From opening the show with a backstage video feed demystifying the bands pre-show routine and showing them chatting amiably as they make their way to the stage. To front man Matt Berninger spending as much time in the crowd as he does on stage, hugging fans and constantly reaching to literally connect with the audience. To debuting a brand new “Bat Child’ that they wrote yesterday in front of 13,000 people. While it doesn’t always come off as – while the new guitar based song sounded interesting the performance was pretty rough – but you cannot fault them for trying.

Full setlist:

  1. Sea of Love
  2. Tropic Morning News
  3. New Order T-Shirt
  4. Squalor Victoria
  5. Don’t Swallow the Cap
  6. Bloodbuzz Ohio
  7. I Need My Girl
  8. Slow Show
  9. Brainy
  10. Conversation 16
  11. Baby, We’ll Be Fine
  12. Lit Up
  13. Alien
  14. Laugh Track
  15. Bat Child (new song)
  16. Day I Die
  17. Pink Rabbits
  18. Rylan (with Annie Hamilton)
  19. England
  20. Fake Empire
  21. Space Invader


  1. Light Years
  2. Mr. November
  3. Terrible Love
  4. Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks