Live Reviews Music

Live Review: Courtney Barnett at The Great Hall – 18/11/18

Photo credit: Pooneh Ghana

By Jeni Gough

The first thing that I noticed about the event was the variety of age groups attending, considering that it took place Cardiff University’s Student Union. This was an audience that I felt shouted diversity and yet was united in music taste. The evening passed quickly but was definitely worth the price of a ticket, with a large enough venue that provided all the necessities, such as a cloakroom.

Barnett’s style fits into the indie and alternative rock genre, with a hint of psychedelia through her Hendrix-style guitar chords accompanied by complex lyrical structures and rock-like vocals. The Australian musician won four awards in 2015 during the ARIA music awards (Australian Recording Industry Association). She was also nominated for Best New Artist at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards and for International Female Solo Artist at the Brit Awards back in 2016. She attracted attention from both American and British music industries after the release of her 2013 album The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas.

The current backing band members that play with her are Bones Sloane (on bass and backing vocals) and Dave Mundie (on drums, percussion, and backing vocals). Courtney chose another Australian musician to be her supporting act on this tour, the solo artist Laura Jean.

Jean’s style differentiated itself from Barnett’s because of her sweet voice, soft folk-like songs, accompanied mostly by the keyboard. At times during her performance she played the saxophone, giving the audience funny little anecdotes about it being angry with her for taking it on tour. She was fairly interactive with the crowd, telling stories to explain the lyrics to her songs and creating a cheery atmosphere despite her slow and melodic song performances. Surrounded by smoke and blue lights she provided an ambient start to the evening.

Between the two performances, an excited restlessness lingered over everyone’s heads until Barnett appeared on stage, wearing a plain t-shirt and jeans. She seemed at ease performing and was extremely polite, saying thank you after almost every song that she performed, which when experienced live make you realise that they were meant to be heard that way.

She kicked off her rather authentic performance with the song ‘Hopelessness’, followed by ‘City looks pretty’ from her most recent album Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018). She also sang a selection from the 2013 album such as ‘Avant Gardener’ and towards the end ‘Anonymous Club’.

In every gig there is usually a favourite song that the crowd engages with the most, and in this case, it was ‘Depreston’, a soft-spoken song with repetitive lyrics that the members of the audience sang along to while adding their own interpretations.