Courtney Barnett @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 20 Nov
Courtney Barnett plays a solid mix of old and new songs tonight and seems to be really enjoying herself onstage, bouncing around, effortlessly pulling off the rock star persona
The simple stage set-up and lack of pomp upon arrival seem in keeping with Courtney Barnett's straightforward style, letting the meandering first song of her latest album, Hopefulessness, warm up the audience. However, the following song, City Looks Pretty, suddenly brings the depth of the show into focus; the high intensity lights at the back of the stage start to flash, the seemingly random curtain draping the back wall is suddenly lit up, its drab folds transformed into faux-regality, while the zig-zagging fairy lights across the stage give a neat two-tiered effect to the band. It's a deceptively intricate arrangement, only revealing itself at a second glance, much like the music of Courtney Barnett.
A lot of the new album allows Barnett to indulge her rockier impulses, mining feedback and melting faces on Nameless, Faceless and amping up the theatrics with some demonic ghost-story-lighting on I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch. But it's on the wordier cuts that Barnett really shines, wringing the poignancy out of house-hunting on Depreston or indulging in 9-to-5 escapism fantasy on Elevator Operator. New song Small Talk is seemingly of this ilk, perhaps indicating a return to the ruminative, yet immediate, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, after the languid, sombre tones of Tell Me How You Really Feel.
Fellow Aussie and tour support, Laura Jean returns with her sax for a delightful cover of "Aussie classic" Streets of Your Town by The Go-Betweens, setting off a stellar run that includes new album highlight Charity and old favourite History Eraser, before closing out the main set with instant classic Pedestrian at Best. Despite the morose, deadpan lyricism, Barnett seems to be really enjoying herself onstage, bouncing around the drums and keys (now presided over by Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin fame), balancing flamingo-style while singing and frequently posing, guitar aloft, embodying the rock star persona that sometimes seems so antithetical to her awkward, witty repartee. But she sure pulls it off.