Review: Courtney Barnett at The Forum, London

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Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett took to the stage for two nights at The Forum in Kentish Town, and we were lucky enough to catch her second performance last Thursday. Her debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit has cemented her place in the British music scene. She has also recently been honoured with an ARIA award for Best Female Artist and Best Independent Release.

Luckily for us the venue was only a short 15 minute walk from the nearest Wagamama, which we couldn’t resist to start off our night early. We soon took to The Assembly House (a nice little pub just across the road from the venue) for a couple of pre-show pints. The support for the evening came in the form of Big Scary who managed to draw a pretty big crowd to get people in the mood for Barnett’s performance.

Before we knew it Courtney Barnett took to the stage, with back up from bassist Andrew ‘Bones’ Sloane and drummer Dave Mudie. As soon as she played the first few notes on her left-handed Fender Jaguar, the crowd knew immediately that things were kicking off with ‘Avant Gardener’. A solid opener, which is taken from her EP The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, and set the mood for her set. ‘Dead Fox’ came next to kick the tempo up a bit, and ‘Small Poppies’ soon after to slow things down again – both showcasing her more recent work.

It wasn’t long before ‘Depreston’ made an appearance, which gave us chance to appreciate her vocals and witty lyrics to their full extent. Next up, we heard the famous opening lyrics of “Oliver Paul, twenty years old/Thick head of hair, worries he’s going bald” and instantly knew what was coming. I’m not sure the people at the bar appreciated me singing ‘Elevator Operator’ while I was waiting for drinks, but I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on a Courtney classic.

Barnett finished with ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party’ and ‘Pedestrian at Best’ to increase the tempo and end with a bang. But, as we expected, Courtney Barnett was back, with Big Scary in tow, to perform their cover of The Saints’ ‘Know Your Product’. This was especially nice as we missed out on Big Scary’s earlier set. The finale came from old favourite ‘History Eraser’, which was the perfect ending to the night.

There was certainly a flawlessness to her performance that made this a unique and enjoyable evening. Surprisingly, despite being renowned for her witty lyrics she appeared rather shy on stage, and there was very little interaction with the crowd. This was in many ways a blessing as it meant we got to hear all of our favourite tracks, but it would have been nice to hear a bit more from Barnett herself about the origins of the songs. The crowd seemed to be enjoying the performance throughout, but it would have been nice to see everyone else dance around as much as we did!

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English and History student.

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