Gig Review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

It was a bitterly cold Monday night in an empty Birmingham city centre. A symptom perhaps of the Black Friday shopping frenzy which it seems that we have ‘culturally appropriated’ from our friends across the pond which was happening later the same week? Not surprisingly the O2 Academy reflected this being half full for the visit of one Miss Courtney Barnett; the lady with the coolest middle name in rock.

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Not to be perturbed our Antipodean guest came on stage to a really unique opening gambit. Something I’d not heard the like of before. Very strange. Knowing relatively little about Miss Barnett this worried me a little. Was I at some psychedelic hippy fest?

Any fears I had were very much allayed with the opening number ‘Hopefulness’ – the first song from her new album ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’. A morbid, building, rip roarer of a tune that just grew and grew. Layer upon layer reminiscent of glorious 90’s grunge (probably the reason why there was a higher percentage of ‘checked shirts/white t-shirt combos’ in attendance than normal).

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I was sold. Instantly. Think a combination of the vocal talent of early Sheryl Crow and the attitude and showmanship of Chrissie Hynde with a touch of Kim Althea Gordon of Sonic Youth fame thrown in to boot and you’re about there.

‘Avant Gardener’, seemingly her most popular tune today with around a whopping 13 million plays on Spotify, quickly followed and bounced along with most of the heads in the audience as did the ridiculously catchy ‘Small Talk’.

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Courtney demonstrated a much mellower and softer side with the simply beautiful ‘Depreston’ and a spellbinding rendition of Gillian Welch’s ‘Everything is Free’ in the encore. You could have heard a pin drop.

Then it was back to type with a ripsnorter of a tune ‘Are you Looking After Yourself’ and ‘Streets of your Town’ where she was joined by saxophonist and vocalist supporting act Laura Jean, followed by ‘Charity’ another popular number from her new album was dedicated to “anyone who’s been having a shitty time lately” by the likeable singer . Glorious!

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The crew, often the unsung heroes (and sometimes villains) of every show got a special mention from the songstress – even Kelly in merch – and it was totally deserved. The lighting was immense; really impressive for such a small show and the sound was really on point.

So those of you who stayed in saving their pennies to buy crap you don’t really need, you missed a real treat. Shame on you people. Those who were there know. They just know.

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Set List:
Hopefulness
City Looks Pretty
Avant Gardener
Need a Little Time
Nameless Faceless
I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch
Small Poppies
Depreston
Are You Looking After Yourself
Streets of Your Town
Elevator Operator
Charity
History Eraser
Nobody Really Cares
Everything is Free
Anonymous Club
Pedestrian

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