Courtney Barnett - O2 Academy, Bristol
Mesmerising. That's the single word that springs to mind when Courtney Barnett is on stage. After a long day on a Tuesday night, the last thing that's needed is a packed O2 Academy in Bristol. It's not the best venue, it gets very hot and very sweaty very quickly. And, despite its actual size, can feel claustrophobic.
But, lifting the mood is the appearance of a lithe figure simply dressed in white t-shirt and black jeans carrying a guitar. There's no staging, and the other musicians are there to play, not entertain. Barnett herself is lively, with her mop of hair the most active thing in the venue. But there's nothing boring about the hour and a half show as it swings from fun, thrashy indie to seriously heavy rock, to melancholia tinged slacker rock.
It's a pretty brave set, the whole first half a chronological playthrough of the Australian's new album, How Do You Really Feel, which takes up over half the show. Having only been released three weeks before the show, it could have led to some dead air in the venue, but with songs like 'City Looks Pretty', 'Crippling Self Doubt And A General Lack Of Self Confidence' playing directly to Barnett's audience and the likes of 'I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch' turning to punk-rock, it's fascinating and lively.
With some delicious melodies hidden behind the wall of fuzz, and her trademark stream of consciousness lyrics forming the bulk of the second half of the show, it's a tremendous live show, with an energy and talent that's all too rarely seen.