The popular Harrisburg University Summer Series hosted its final concert last weekend featuring The National and Indigo Sparke. Set on the banks of the Susquehanna River in downtown Harrisburg, this year’s lineup has also included performances from Death Cab For Cutie, Lord Huron and Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats.
Opener Indigo Sparke captivated the growing audience with tracks from her sophomore album “Hysteria” which is due for release on October 7th. The album was produced by Aaron Dessner of The National and he joined Indigo and her band on guitar for a couple of numbers during the set.
I adore The National and hadn’t seen them in concert since 2019 so was really looking forward to this! The band took to the stage around 9 p.m. and launched into “Don’t Swallow The Cap” from the 2013 album “Trouble Will Find Me” to a rapturous welcome from the capacity crowd. Following that they played some crowd favorites including “Mistaken For Strangers”, “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, “I Need My Girl” and “Slow Show”.
Halfway through the main set, the band played three new unreleased songs “This Isn’t Helping”, “Moon Drop Light” (Matt was not impressed with the title and wanted to rename the song, asking the crowd for suggestions) and “Tropic Morning News”. The first two songs start fairly slowly with the sound building as they progress while the latter is an uptempo track – they bode really well for the new album which hopefully is not too far away!
As Matt prowled the stage and balanced along the front barriers, the band finished their main set with seven songs including “Day I Die”, “Rylan” (where Indigo Sparke came back on stage to help with vocals) and my favorite song of all time “Pink Rabbits”. During “Graceless” Matt went for his customary walk into the crowd to the delight of everyone before finishing with “Fake Empire”.
With the crowd calling out for more, the band returned for an encore of four songs starting with the recently released “Weird Goodbyes,” which sounded more fully rounded compared to the recorded version. “Mr. November” followed with the crowd screaming along to the chorus and they closed the show with “Terrible Love” and “About Today”. Minor quibble – there was no “Vanderlyle” singalong at the end but still an amazing night. The National seemed to be having a great time and it was probably my favorite show that I’ve seen them play.