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Courtney Barnett, Northumbria University, Newcastle

  • Written by  Lee Hammond

With Tell Me How You Really Feel already riding high in many album of the year lists, Courtney Barnett has undoubtedly had a stellar year. Tonight is the closing night of a two month stint on the road in support of said album and spirits are high in Newcastle. Laura Jean opens the show with a somewhat different set to that which you may have expected from someone who usually has a full backing band. Instead Jean is accompanied by an “AI version of her band” in the form of a sampler. Alongside this though the multi instrumentalist constantly switches between keyboards and saxophone, her songs are delicate and her voice particularly sweet.

However, the lack of the band is all too obvious in part of her set. These otherwise full and exciting songs feel somewhat hollow on this occasion, other than that though Jean is a captivating performer with all the banter and quirks to keep this audience entertained. Similar sentiments apply to the brilliant Courtney Barnett who soon follows, opening with 'Hopefulness'. It’s a subdued opening but this is short lived as Barnett and her band quickly hit their stride with 'City Looks Pretty'.

From here the excitement and the riffs are swiftly escalated, with huge singalongs for 'Avant Gardener' and 'Nameless, Faceless' quickly following. Barnett is on top form thrashing around the stage in ecstatic fashion, alongside all of this the content of her songs really succeeds in the live arena. The likes of 'l’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch' and 'Depreston' feel particularly poignant. Barnett is a wonderful songwriter and her depth and her willingness to address issues that are all too commonly avoided is to be commended. This truly shows through in this awesome set.

Almost every song resonates with the majority of this crowd, take 'Are You Looking After Yourself?' for example, whether you’re the person checking in with someone or the person being checked in with it’s most likely we’ve all been on one side of this song. As Barnett closes out her main set with rousing renditions of 'History Eraser' and 'Pedestrian At Best', you cannot help but be bowled over by her brilliance and it is clear why Tell Me How You Really Feel has to be lauded in the way in which it has.

Barnett returns alone to play a wonderful cover of Gillian Welch’s 'Everything Is Free', before ending this leg of her tour in emphatic fashion with 'Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party'. Rounding off an epic set, Barnett’s songwriting is the real star of the show coupled with her exceptional guitar skills, there is something truly special about tonight’s show!

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