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October 1, 2018 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Courtney Barnett – Wellington Opera House, 30/08/2018

Performing at the sold-out Wellington Opera House, Courtney Barnett demonstrated her international success and experience: blending dreamy indie-rock with a punkier sludge, supplemented by plenty of energy and volume. The third and final show in the NZ leg of her international tour, Courtney rocked the venue for two hours, and left us wanting more.
Since her Auckland Laneway festival performance in 2016, Courtney has received a received worldwide acclaim, including a Grammy nomination. Earlier this year she released her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel and it is clear she has matured sonically and performatively in the past three years. The new record’s shift to a darker, more anxious tone was well realized in performance, while the strengths of her debut, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, remained with the tongue-in-cheek lyrics and catchy jammy sound.
The four-piece band was tight and versatile; dropping into a slow, psychedelic groove before launching into intense head pumping rock. Courtney’s voice was never lost under the band, which was impressive considering her spectrum, from sweet folkish singing to borderline screaming, and important given her witty and thought-provoking lyrics. Dressed in jeans and a white shirt, Courtney had the rare quality of seeming really down to earth but still super cool and talented. A highlight was her ripping solo during Small Poppies, contorting herself and the guitar around the stage with awesome energy.
Chat was minimal between songs, with Courtney politely asking how we were enjoying it and thanking us for being an attentive audience. I would’ve liked to have seen Courtney in a stand-up venue — instead, those who wanted to get up and dance had to do with the side-aisles. Otherwise the Opera House served well, providing lots of space, sound, and good lighting.
Reflected in the crowd’s mix of age-groups, there is a timelessness in Courtney’s music; grounded by her strong musical roots in folk and alternative rock alongside her genuine style and refreshing talent as a writer. Emerging to calls for an encore, Courtney did a beautiful solo cover of Gillian Welch’s “Everything Is Free”, captivating the audience. This is an artist who’ll be sticking around, so don’t worry if you missed her this time.


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