Live Review: Courtney Barnett lets us into her room

Courtney Barnett

The air is heavy with expectation at the Enmore Theatre tonight as the Sydney crowd gets ready to welcome Courtney Barnett back to this venue after a long absence. Some faces are looking at the floor nervously – it is only a few weeks since a massive sinkhole appeared in the mosh pit at this venue during a Genesis Owusu gig. Thankfully the ground remains solid below our feet tonight.

Barnett strides on stage, she looks happy as she surveys the crowd. Her backing band tonight is made of regulars Dave Mudie (drums) and Bones Sloane (bass) with Stella Mozgawa on percussion and keyboards a recent addition. Mozgawa, who also drums for the band Warpaint, collaborated with Barnett on her latest album ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’.

The band launches into ‘Rae Street’ and it is clear from the outset that Barnett is happy to be on stage again and the crowd shares her emotions. There is so much love in this room, it’s almost palpable. The second song on the setlist tonight is also off her new album-it’s the evocative ‘Sunfair Sundown’ and the crowd is really grooving and there is a cool, mellow vibe in the Enmore. But the audience is soon awakened from its tranquility as the band kicks into ‘Avant Gardener’ the claustrophobic song about an asthma attack.

Barnett is known for her sharp and witty lyrics which express the ups and down of everyday life. The stage is decorated with lamps and resembles a room – it feels intimate and cosy, like the notoriously shy Barnett is actually giving us a glimpse into her life.

The setlist veers from old favourites like ‘Depreston’ to newer tracks such as ‘If I don’t hear from you tonight’. I look around at the people in the crowd and there are smiles on just about every face. Couples are cuddling. An old guy punches the air as Barnett produces one of her scorching guitar solos. A young boy dances crazily with his mom when Barnett kicks into ‘Elevator Operator’. The crowd is a mix of age and gender, but everyone is enjoying themselves. The band plays a two song encore and then they are gone, but before they leave the stage someone shouts out “Courtney you’ve changed people’s lives tonight!”

Maybe that’s an overstatement but Barnett and her band this evening have again shown the power of music to unite and to allow us a brief blissful interlude, in Courtney’s room, as the world rages outside.

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