Put her on a pedestal, and she definitely won't disappoint you
Geo Blackman

17:00 15th November 2018

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Die-hard fans are adjusting their long leather coats and baker boy hats to prepare themselves for Australian wonder, Courtney Barnett to grace the stage with her presence. She marches on, waves ever so slightly, picks her guitar up and gets stuck in. 

Fairy lights cover the floor and red lighting cascades onto her as her euphoric vocals start to echo throughout the venue, she’s strumming her Fender so effortlessly – not moving an inch but she owns the stage that she’s been standing on for less than a few moments and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Her mop-like hair drapes onto her forehead as she surrenders herself to the music. 

Barnett seems shy, almost fearful of the packed-out Brixton Academy but carries on as she groans, “I wanna walk through the park in the dark, women are scared that men will kill them” from ‘Nameless, Faceless’. It gets the venue bouncing with adrenaline and she brightens up and picks up the momentum - oh look, she’s radiating confidence and she grabs the opportunity to take control. Each song on her set list flows effortlessly whilst the heavy sounds of guitar riffs and hypnotising drum beats intertwine. It’s getting hot in here. 

We’re a little way through the set and of course, it’s time to turn it down a notch. The fresh, tranquil sounds of a small, engaging interlude raise the hairs on my arms before the lyrics of ‘Are You Looking After Yourself’ begin. An instant cheer erupts; the lights fade and the spotlight is focused on her. A sea of eyes are set on the introverted soul, a lot of love is in the air, infatuation is amongst me and it’s a beautiful sight as she takes us on a trip down memory lane. 

With the crowd wrapped around her little finger, she slips in a cover of ‘Streets of Your Town’ by Australian group, The Go-Betweens. Breezing through it perfectly, she exposes herself as a natural that can pull off anything because who doesn’t love an 80’s indie hit? 

The first chord of ‘Pedestrian at Best’ vibrates the floor, competing with the jumps and stomps of her admirers as they recognised her most popular track. Her distinctive vocals and barrage of thoughts bellow to the rooftops and just when you thought Courtney couldn’t do any better, she throws herself around the stage like a rag doll with not a care in the world – like a rock ‘n’ roll star. 

As a woman of not many words, she appreciated the turnout and said, “thanks so much, thanks for having us”. The pleasure is all ours Ms. Barnett. 

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Photo: James Polley