LIVE REVIEW: Courtney Barnett @ Northumbria University, Newcastle (21.11.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Mia Mala McDonald

Eager heads and waning pints stretch to all corners of the room for Courtney Barnett this evening. I’m on my tip-toes as new opener Hopefulessness slowly winds up. An interminable guitar loop floats out hypnotically from Barnett’s lone visage, a cultish leader showered by a red light overhead.

Red: “Evokes a strong sense of passion, lust, sex, energy, blood and war” (cheers, It’s also a colour that paints Barnett’s deadpan stare on the cover of her new LP Tell Me How You Really Feel. An album which tears through the emotional spectrum one bullet-witted, eagle-eyed quip at a time, and an album who’s tour will come to an end here tonight in Newcastle.

“Welcome, welcome to the show, hope everyone has a nice spot,” Barnett offers charmingly, even if it’s a spatially improbable wish. “This song is called Avant Gardner.” An old crowd favourite that sees her flit between her signature drowsy yet rapid fire monotone and guitar-behind-head theatrics, energy indeed.

A wise website once said: “Red radiates a strong and powerful masculine energy.” Admittedly that’s news to me, but dubious source material aside, Barnett’s blank canvas T-shirt coupled with a split personality haircut and plenty of guitar throttling comes across as anything but dainty tonight.

Now. Dare I mention the F word? I don’t want to spoil the party, not every single female fronted act needs Feminism bringing up. Frankly, it’s getting a little patronising. That said, an act like Courtney Barnett is a good example of just expecting equal respect, no longer asking for it. Anna Calvi is doing the same with her gender-dismantling Hunter album and tour – which has also been dripping in the red stuff (just saying). So maybe there’s some symbolism there, but it’s probably missing the point. You should watch them rip a rad solo and roll about on the floor because they’re good at it, very good at it. That’s all you really need to take away from the show tonight.

The last thing you should do is write some convoluted think piece about the lighting because you saw a girl rock out, it happens dude. 

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