There is no doubt Courtney Barnett is dominating the Australian Indie Rock scene. Despite being the most humble rock star you will ever meet, she absolutely blew audiences away at one of a series of sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House last Saturday.
I was sceptical about being seated for a rock concert, but Barnett filled the entire room with energy, throwing herself around the stage as she got lost in her guitar riffs. Her controlled, deadpan delivery of witty and relatable lyrics showcased a strongly developed unique vocal talent.
The set list included songs from her most recent album Tell Me How You Really Feel as well as songs from her debut album such as 'Depreston' and 'Kim’s Caravan'. She also performed songs from as far back as 2013 including 'Anonymous Club' and 'Avant Gardener'.
Barnett revealed it was the lighting designer Heather’s birthday which resulted in an impromptu crowd performance of Happy Birthday. 2,000 passionate voices came together to celebrate as the lights came up on a beaming Heather who laughed and shook her head at Barnett.
Barnett’s energy and lyricism brought the crowd to their feet in a standing ovation however it was the encore that really took the cake for me. She returned to the stage without her band to cheers and thunderous applause, a moment of electric energy that turned into a stunned silence as she took the breath away from the crowd of over 2,000 people with her cover of 'Everything Is Free' by Gillian Welch.
The lighting and stage design, including a red velvet drape across the back wall and 2017 ROBE LED lights, created a fitting retro backdrop for the grunge influence on some of Barnett’s more open and self-critical lyrics.
Her lyrics aren’t all just undeniably relatable revelations of self-doubt however.
“I wanna walk through the park in the dark. Women are scared that men will kill them.” The line from Barnett’s 'Nameless, Faceless' serves as a harsh reminder about the fear of male violence women live with on a day-to-day basis. The lyrical parallel to the murder of Eurydice Dixon as she walked home through a park solidified the song’s message, a constant reminder about the need to put an end to a culture of male violence.
As dire as the current climate of the world may seem, it’s uplifting to see a voice like Barnett’s resonating with a global audience. Her music videos have reached millions of viewers and she has countless international tours under her belt.
The quiet and slightly awkward persona people fell in love with when Barnett’s career first took off has been shed as she has grown into a mature and polished performer who tours globally whilst also running an independent record label with her partner Jen Cloher.
Barnett’s dedication to her music, deeply personal lyrics, and incredible live performances make audiences fall love with her over and over again.
I am so excited to see what Barnett will do next as she skyrockets through success.
Words & Images by Alicia Scott.