SO.CO Team

3 weeks ago

The National surprise Connect crowd with stripped back set for Tiny Changes

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The National made an unannounced stop off at the smallest stage at Connect Festival in Edinburgh this weekend, prior to their eagerly anticipated headline show the same evening. Thomas Jackson was side of stage for the biggest event of the weekend. 

Sometime on Sunday afternoon, rumours started to circulate around the press area at Connect Festival 2022. A mysterious addition to the schedule for the Gardener’s Cottage stage hosted by Tiny Changes (a Scottish mental health charity) simply read “Secret Set: 7:45pm”, and anyone who might be in the know was remaining tight-lipped. Throughout the afternoon the whispers got louder and louder, and come 7pm, having shot superb sets from Bombay Bicycle Club and Admiral Fallow, we made the short journey to the smallest stage on the Connect site and took up positions as the crowd started to build. 

At around 7:35pm, Kara Brown, CEO of Tiny Changes, took to a stage flanked by visibly nervous security, and a stage manager already holding a bright red ‘show stop’ card in one hand, just in case the sizeable, and growing, crowd became unmanageable. After telling us a little about the origins of the charity, and the superb work they do for young people’s mental health in Scotland, she uttered the words we’d been hoping for: “I can’t quite believe I’m about to say this, but please welcome… The National”. 

Matt Berninger, and the Dessner twins (Aaron and Bryce) barely fit onto the tiny stage, but the sound seemed to fill the festival, and there was a palpable sense of something wonderful happening in front of our eyes. The short set, featuring High Violet track Sorrow and About Today from 2004 album Cherry Tree, was received in near silence from a receptive audience, and whilst it felt like it was over in an instant, the memory of this very special moment will last much longer. 

Tiny Changes was established in memory of the late Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison, who took his own life in 2018. The charity aims to help young people in Scotland that are struggling with mental health issues. To find out more about their work, or to make a donation, please visit www.tinychanges.com.

Words and pictures: Thomas Jackson