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In Review: Courtney Barnett at O2 Academy, Leeds

In Review: Courtney Barnett at O2 Academy, Leeds

Lorna Gray | Reviews

Charming trio Loose Tooth warm up the audience with their fun surf-pop sound and witty audience banter. The band state it’s their first time touring Europe and joke that many are only here to see the main act, but the crowd make them feel welcome with their enthusiastic bopping and nodding along to their sweet guitar tinged pop sound, and judging by the sets of applause after each song, it seems they’d be welcomed back in no time.

Those familiar with Barnett’s back catalogue will be appreciative of her laid-back, lo-fi and somewhat slacker attitude to songwriting, even down to the titles of her tracks and the brand new album ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’, which lack in metaphorical or deeper meanings and instead offer a literal projection of what this artist wants to convey, much to the admiration of the sizable Leeds’ crowd. This honest and heart-on-sleeve approach to music making is clearly reflected in her performance, as she stands, centre stage, nonchalantly gripping her guitar accompaniment and gets straight stuck in to her set without uttering a word. Beginning with the simple dark-toned strums of new album opener ‘Hopefulness’, the slow and steady nature of Courtney’s ‘no-one’s born to hate’ lyrics allow for her audience to truly soak up her sound.

Following a short greeting to her audience, Courtney announces her intent of playing the new album in full, then proceeds to do just that. Although always entirely competent in her guitar playing, it’s evident that her newest record showcases finer details of her skill, with the charmingly simple chord structures now tinted with fancier riff fillers, distortion and psychedelic fuzz - a suitable tone for some of the themes featured in ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’. Grittier and grungier than her previous releases, particularly tracks ‘Nameless, Faceless’ with it’s oxymoronic surf-pop sound and ‘I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch’ which references a quote from Margaret Atwood, both address issues surrounding being a female in a patriarchal society. Their performances include a much more animated stage presence, as if the passion of messages within her music rouse something within her - all in all making the largely young and female demographic seem even sweeter.

Following what seemed like a storm through her album, Barnett then takes her audience on a journey through more of her distinct tracks, with the single that found her fame ‘Avant Gardener’ leading the way on a somewhat nostalgic trip through her career. Following on from renditions of ‘Elevator Operator’, ‘Small Poppies’, ‘Depreston’ and more, the Aussie singer leaves the stage, only to return shortly for an encore due to demand, completing her set with ‘Anonymous Club’, ‘Pedestrian at Best’ and a en-mass sing-a-long of ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party’.

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In Review: Courtney Barnett at O2 Academy, Leeds

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