The northern public transport system might be working against her but when Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan finally gets to Courtney Barnett’s Manchester show she enjoys hit after hit.
Standing in the pretty picturesque Albert Hall we feel a little uncomfortable. It’s taken longer than normal to venture over to Manchester due to trains not running from Lime St.
So two trains later we’ve arrived a bit dazed from travel and it’s a little warm…it’s also very bright indoors.
I guess unless you’re at a festival the thought of a typical gig atmosphere is dark, somewhere to hide almost and sing your heart out to favourite songs. But at the Albert Hall, the huge impressive stained glass windows that line the venue are still letting the evening summer sun stream in at 8pm.
Loose Tooth kick off the night to a room bright and full enough for them to take a selfie with the crowd to ‘up their social media presence’.
The three piece from Melbourne play summery jangly surf pop songs that remind us of The Courtneys. Though with Courtney Barnett curating a whole festival in Belgium in November with acts like The Courtneys, The Coathangers and Dream Wife we’re not surprised by tonight’s choice of support.
“We are the hors d’ourves to Courtney Barnett’s snack” they announced totally at ease on stage, super happy and with tons of charisma, telling stories in-between songs of giving giant dicks as gifts and the venue being hot enough to make your neck sweat…The music matched the bright room and at the end of the set their guitarist told the audience that her fly had been open the whole set…we didn’t notice, promise.
Courtney Barnett came onstage as the sun was finally setting and the stage lighting could be used to full effect against a sparkling silver drape.
The Australian singer instantly recognisable with a mop of shaggy brown hair and left handed guitar in tow, ran through her new album Tell Me How You Really Feel from beginning to end. Starting off with Hopefullessness the hall was packed to the brim.
can 100% confirm that Courtney Barnett is exceptional!!!!! one of the best live acts about ?? pic.twitter.com/nKJOdUIzDk
— lucy (@lucy_grayson) June 4, 2018
So much that you couldn’t move to get anywhere near the front and when going to have a mooch upstairs we were told it was completely full. Throughout the whole album we felt the audience though tightly packed was a little subdued.
Walking on Eggshells seemed a little quiet seen as the crowd appeared to get so worked up during Loose Tooth’s set.
Sunday Roast got people going a little, maybe because it was the first time Barnett interacted with the audience between songs or maybe because it signalled the end of the album and perhaps the beginning of more familiar tunes.
The song to alleviate the atmosphere was the massive Avant Gardner from the EP Sea of Spilt Peas, finally the audience started to wake up and the singalongs came in strong for the rest of the set.
Small Poppies was especially on fire and a highlight of the show with Barrett seeming more fired up, bouncing round the stage rolling her guitar around and even getting up on the drum kit.
It was songs from her debut Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit which got the most attention from the crowd. So obviously Depreston got a huge sing along from start to finish.
After a long encore with the audience pounding their feet and shouting with the noise reverberating around the venue, the band finally reappear.
— stephen (@stevemac721) June 4, 2018
Barnett began with Anonymous Club from Sea of Spilt Peas EP which appears to be a rare track to the heard live these days. The instrumental was dragged out into a trippy Sonic Youth style Expressway To Yr Skull crescendo.
Following straight into Pedestrian at Best for the very last song which carried a Nirvana-style live sound, the crowd was on her side. The conversational lyrics that people relate to had hands in the air emotionally involved with the lyrics that meant something personal to the listeners.
The lights went up straight away and she was gone. What started out as a slow burning set ended up with a quick fire hit after hit.
Maybe we needed some more time to process all the tracks on her new album or maybe some songs need to be weeded out of the live set. But one things for sure, Courtney Barnett has the back catalogue enough to blow the roof off any venue.
Photos by Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan