Good live music has the ability to stoke the flame and turn a fire into a blazing inferno. Courtney Barnett is undoubtedly the most polarising musician in Australia – you either love her or hate her, and there’s simply no in between; but when she gets on stage there's no denying her talent.
I’ve always been firmly on the Barnett bandwagon but her thrashed out guitar solos, inimitable song writing and conversational cheek to a packed out Gov on Thursday night (one of two sold out shows mind you!) added fuel to my fire in what was one of the best live performances I’ve seen.
Everyone’s favourite freshwater crustacean and Adelaidean rock and roll outfit The Yabbies opened the evening with some weird but tight tracks, before Teeth & Tongue’s Jess Cornelius meandered on stage, unashamedly adorned in her own band’s merch tee.
The 33-year-old New Zealand ex-pat rocked out on stage with her Melbourne-based outfit, dishing up some Elaine Benes-inspired dance moves and a collection of the most brooding, hypnotic and creative tunes you’re likely to hear.
A buzz filled the room in anticipation of Courtney Barnett’s arrival on stage. The formerly hesitant sell-out crowd shuffled forward and closed up the dance floor gap in unassuming fashion. Chants of “Courtney! Courtney!” filled the room, as the tragics grew impatient and when the Tasmanian anomaly wandered out on stage led by her wry smile and token flanno, the house erupted.
No time for her signature awkward small-talk, it was straight into it as the crowd of genuine misfits (I think it might’ve been a premature Mother’s Day outing for some families) bounced around to tracks from both “A Sea of Split Peas” and debut studio album “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.”
It seemed every song ended with its own unique epic guitar solo, while drummer Dave Mudie and bass guitarist Bones Sloane went about their business in their own way. Unsurprisingly, the set finished all too soon for the crowd, whom were now frothing at the mouth.
Barnett was carried back on stage by the sheer chants of her name, this time wearing a t-shirt opposing the forced closure of Aboriginal communities. Barnett expressed her support for the at-risk communities and urged everyone to get along to the rally in Light Square, before diving into a solo cover of Lemonheads’ “Being Around”.
The band then joined her on stage for “Pickles From A Jar” – simple the mention of the word “Adelaide” was enough to send the crowd absolutely batshit. One girl was heard screaming “I don’t even know where the f**k I am!” – so naturally it was getting time to wind things up, but not before Courtney treated the crowd to an unprecedented triple encore, finishing with the Easybeats’ “Make You Happy”.
There are so many great qualities in Courtney Barnett’s music, all of which are amplified x100 when seen in the flesh. Her guitar work is first class, her lyrics are second-to-none and most importantly her music is unique, genre-bending, mind-expanding goodness. Whatever your stance on her music, there’s no denying her creative genius.
Her tour continues tonight at The Gov to another sold-out audience before taking on the rest of the country.
Remaining tour dates:
Apr 30 The Gov (Adelaide, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 01 The Gov (Adelaide, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 02 The Bakery (Perth, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 03 The Bakery (Perth, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 07 The Metro (Sydney, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 08 The Metro (Sydney, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 09 Hifi (Brisbane, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 14 The Forum (Melbourne, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 15 The Forum (Melbourne, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
May 16 The Forum (Melbourne, Australia) w/ Teeth & Tongue
All images taken by Brad Coles