– Albert Hall, Manchester –

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Since her breakthrough debut album in 2015, Courtney Barnett has won the hearts of a diverse fan base. From parents with their 20-something kids to rowdy friend groups and the LGBTQI+ community, tonight’s crowd represents how strongly her music appeals to our experiences, rather than our backgrounds alone.

With her signature stream-of-consciousness lyrical style, Barnett is a master of crafting the mundane to find meaning. And with the energy her swift, flawless delivery brings to the stage, her back catalogue shines in a live setting.

As Barnett takes to the stage, it’s striking how easy she makes performing live look. The lack of stage props, instrument swaps and wardrobe changes channel the focus on what really matters – the music and those it resonates with.

Her set is made up of a healthy mix of crowdpleasers and material from 2021’s reflective bigger-picture ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’. ‘Pedestrian at Best’, ‘Elevator Operator’ and ‘Nobody Really Cares if You Don’t Go to the Party’ are perfect for Friday night and are recited by the crowd word-for-word, despite the breakneck pace.

Courtnet Barnett’s subject matter is a powerful glue for her audience. Amplifying rambling voices, questions and observations, she stitches together the patchwork of our daily lives and reflects from a safe distance, much like her elevator operator.

Her lyrics are also a channel for the more political and urgent issues that rile us all. This is highlighted in material from her second album ‘Tell me How You Really Feel’, including the hard-hitting ‘Nameless, Faceless’.

A real showpiece of Barnett’s live performance is her unique fingerpicking style. Hating how plectrums sound on acoustic guitars led her to ditch convention and find her own pop-rock-punk delivery niche.

Another top performer tonight is the Albert Hall. A venue can make or break a gig and even Barnett pauses mid-set to pay homage to the surrounds.

Despite having a rock star skillset and presence, Courtney Barnett remains modest and firmly rooted in reality. Ending her encore with ‘Before You Gotta Go’, she questions whether anyone will know her newer material, which is already well over year old.

This lack of pretention only strengthens the rapport with her fans and is just one of the many things that makes her a standout performer, lyricist and musician. It also explains why there’s not an inch of space in the Albert Hall this evening.

A passionate musician, an astronomically talented performer with a healthy dose of humour, Courtney Barnett is truly Manchester’s kind of artist.

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