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Courtney Barnett live is a must see

Following the release of her lauded album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett played at Festival Hall, the final stop on her national tour. 

Playful music played as the lights went down and welcomed Barnett and her band on the stage. Simultaneously, fairy lights strewn across the instruments lit up as the band kicked into the album opener, ‘Hopefulessness’.

The first song eased the eager crowd into the long set ahead. You can’t sprint a marathon, and Barnett was steadying herself and teasing the crowd with fan-favourites spread out across the set. The lingering outro of the song perfectly led into the contrasting, ‘City Looks Pretty’. The crowd roared to the familiar sound. The line “strangers treat you like their best friend” was incredibly relevant in this live setting, Courtney would go on later to ask the crowd, “who made a friend tonight?”, with a wholesome and affirming yell.

While watching her set, it’s hard to understand how she is such a polarising artist. How can people not love her? Barnett is an absolute rock-star, get used to it world. The room had such a broad demographic, from young children to mature-aged adults. Courtney Barnett is for everyone. Barnet is also very engaging in between songs. From watching interviews, Barnett is generally fairly quiet and reserved, yet, on stage she is well in her element. Barnett shared a story from her early days of playing electric guitar; a tale of humble beginnings. While on the topic of her stage presence, Barnett plays with incredible passion. Specifically, ‘I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch’. People who can play their guitar flawlessly while jumping around feverishly will never stop being impressive. 

Blitzing through some favourites, ‘Charity’, ‘Nameless Faceless’, ‘Depreston’ and ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party’, Barnett broke hearts and left the stage. Festival Hall roared for her return. The begging lingered on, longer than what a usual, scheduled encore would. Humbled, Barnett returned alone for a slow cover, ‘Everything Is Free’. The audience even pulled real lighters out of their pocket to put in the air instead of the modernised phone torchlight. Genuine lighters during a genuine encore? Unheard of. Barnett’s band returned on stage, suspiciously on schedule. Knew it was too good to be true.

Barnett wrapped up with ‘Pedestrian at Best’ and left the stage for good after a massive two-hour set. What a rock-star move. Loyal Barnett fans would have marvelled at the colossal set. Yet, more casual fans might have felt it was a little long. Regardless, Barnett live is a must see. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see her on Melbourne stages again.

Highlight: Seeing so many young kids experiencing such good live music.

Lowlight: The cage closing off the seating portion at Festival Hall. WHY?

Crowd favourite: ‘Depreston’.