Courtney Barnett is no slouch. First there’s the fact that over the past couple of years she has toured constantly not only with her own band of Bones Sloane (bass), Dave Mudie (drums), and (more recently on this current tour) Katie Harkin (keyboards/guitar) but with Kurt Vile and most recently in Jen Cloher’s band.
Then there are the two critically acclaimed records in that period (the A.A. Milne/Winnie the Pooh inspired title, Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit and the Kurt Vile collaboration, Lotta Sea Lice) and a third, Tell Me How You Really Feel, which was released on the label she started, Milk Records, this past March.
I’ve had the fortune to see Courtney Barnett a few times, but I have to say that the new songs have a punch that are a joy to witness live, and on Tuesday at The Anthem, the crowd was clearly feeling this too. In a large venue like The Anthem, Courtney’s stage presence and guitar work was magnified — and it moved this audience.
Courtney and company began the set with the new album’s opener “Hopefulnessness” — a slow starter that rolled into a steady rhythm. The stage was lit in all red as the set moved into the up-tempo “The City Looks Pretty” with the opening lines, “The city looks pretty when you’ve been indoors / For twenty-three days I’ve ignored all your phone calls.” Courtney has this seemingly innate way of taking the ordinary and making it seem extraordinary. Mundane life is examined in a way that is immediately relatable.
During her last tour for Sometimes I Sit and Think, the band was a three-piece that produced a full sound, but I think there’s a visible comfort with these songs. The addition of Katie Harkin added an additional guitar and periodic Fender Rhodes that filled the space. The stage lights were also amazing to watch, especially during rockers like “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch.”
Courtney Barnett is an artist at the top of her game, writing strong music with an equally brilliant stage performance. Don’t miss her as she’s on tour now. Tour dates can be found here.
According to setlist.fm the set included:
Here are some pictures of Courtney Barnett performing at The Anthem on July 24, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.