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First Listen Live: The National, 'Sleep Well Beast'

The National
Bob Boilen
The National

ADVISORY: This concert contains profanity.

The National played the group's entire new album, Sleep Well Beast live in Philadelphia on Sept. 5, days before its release, and we have the entire show for you here.

The capacity crowd of about 1,200 at Union Transfer witnessed an extraordinary performance by this band of impeccable performers, including a good deal of guitar dueling by twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner.

The concert began with a sharply dressed Matt Berninger comically mixing up his own lyrics as he sang, "You said we're not so tied together, what did you mean? Meet me in the bathroom in a second, for a glass of gin," instead of "meet me in the stairwell." It was a funny flub that referenced the title of of Lizzy Goodman's recently published book, Meet Me In The Bathroom about the New York music scene from 2001-2011. But it foreshadowed Matt's frenetic performance throughout the night as he cast off that sport coat, rolled up his sleeves and led the band in a fun and inspired performance of these new songs. The show ended with Matt pitching his plastic cup full of clear liquid into the crowd in a frenzy of strobe light mania.

The group was joined throughout the night by Arone Dyer of Buke and Gase (who also sings on the new record), along with Ben Lanz on trombone and keyboard, Kyle Resnick on trumpet, keys and backing vocals and brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf on bass and drums.

World Cafe host Talia Schlanger and I recently talked with Matt Berninger about how he and the band created their new album. Listen to that full interview here.

Sleep Well Beast is out Sept. 8 on 4AD Records.


  • "Nobody Else Will Be There"
  • "Day I Die"
  • "Walk It Back"
  • "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness"
  • "Born to Beg"
  • "Turtleneck"
  • "Empire Line"
  • "I'll Still Destroy You"
  • "Guilty Party"
  • "Carin at the Liquor Store"
  • "Dark Side of the Gym"
  • "Sleep Well Beast"
  • Encore

  • "Green Gloves"
  • "Apartment Story"
  • "Fake Empire"
  • "Terrible Love"
  • Copyright 2017 XPN

    Suraya Mohamed is a three-time Peabody Award-winning producer, sound designer and editor. She currently serves as the project manager for Jazz Night In America and is a contributing producer on the Alt.Latino podcast. She also produces NPR's holiday specials package, including Tinsel Tales, Hanukkah Lights, Toast Of The Nation, Pink Martini's Joy To The World: A Holiday Spectacular and most recently Hamilton: A Story Of US. You'll also find her work on the Tiny Desk series as either a producer or engineer.
    In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.
    Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.