Courtney Barnett


Courtney Barnett chooses a brave route for the first half of the show, playing the whole new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, in full. No smattering of previous hits to keep the crowd appeased. But it pays off. The new album is brilliant and well received. There is a greater rock feel to the new songs, with most tracks making time for Courtney to show off her guitar wielding bravado. The slacker rock style I had previously characterised Courtney with after 2015’s album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I just Sit, being a thing of the past. She confidently thrashes her instrument around the stage creating distorted sonic bliss. This new sound is fitting for the larger venue of the Albert Hall. Her YouTube shows had not prepared me for how incredible the performance was actually going to be. Standouts from this high octane first half are ‘Charity’ and ‘Help Your Self.’

The light designer is on top form too. The stage is one flying pig away from a Pink Floyd laser show. It flirts around the line of too much at times but never overextends. From subtle fairy lights distributed among the crowd and stage; like candles in the vast ornate room, to flashes of greens, purples, and a sunset glow bouncing off the stained glass windows lining the venue. The visual effect is as captivating as the music against the hanging carbon drapes adorning the rear of the stage.

With the latest album covered in its entirety, the classics are brought out for the second half. There’s no slacking in the set as the songs are brought up to speed with the new rock stylings, with very little gaps between or banter with the audience. ‘Avant Gardener’ is given an overhaul, extended and intense , ‘Depreston’ sounds more full than ever, with the audience acting as a backing choir, echoing through the hall. The whole crowd are as elated with the performance as I am. A standing, stamping riot of applause rumbles through the room like a cavern. A rumble raised to a rapturous crescendo before Courtney re-enters the stage. Two songs are played as an encore, a slow one compared to the rest of the evening in ‘Anonymous Club’ and of course the hugely popular ‘Pedestrian At Best.’ For quite a large venue, Albert Hall feels perceptually intimate. A perfect spot for Courtney’s mix of extravagant effects and breathless guitar work, held down by her endless charm and wit.

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