When Courtney Barnett first came onto the scene in 2012, she supported local acts and played to modest crowds. Fast forward to 2015 and Barnett is headlining three sold out shows in Melbourne at the Forum, to crowds full of Barnett devotees and has garnered international appeal, including Ellen Degeneres who is a fan. Perhaps Aussies are finally shedding the Tall Poppy Syndrome and embracing their successful and talented local acts, as they should.
Teeth & Tongue mastermind, Jess Cornelius is slaying the throng with her booming vocals in “Good Man.” The intensity of the performance captivates and warms up the crowd who are trying to edge their way to the front of the stage to claim a good vantage point.
The love for Barnett is palpable. Clad in a T-shirt and jeans, Barnett sings the first few verses of “Canned Tomatoes (Whole)” solo, and is soon joined by Bones Sloane on bass and Dave Mudie on drums building to a feedback drenched crescendo. Showcasing her debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit track one “Elevator Operator” about the dude in the Nicholas Building follows to loud claps and cheers. Oldie “Lance Jnr” highlights the lo-fi garage rock sound and Barnett’s trademark laid back singing style. “An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)” and “Dead Fox” fire up the punters enough for Barnett to say with tongue firmly in cheek”I just want you to stop dancing because you’re getting too excited.”
Slower and melancholy track about house hunting in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs “Depreston” eases the frenetic pace, but “Avant Gardener” based on Barnett’s asthma attack whilst gardening, anaphylactic shock and ensuing adrenalin shot, heats things up again. Witty, autobiographical songs resonate with Melbourne locals, and things turn up a notch when the band launches into a punchy cover of The Breeder’s “Cannonball.” “Pedestrian at Best” is a searing highlight, and when the band exits the stage, the Forum rocks with thunderous foot stomping and pleading for an encore.
Barnett impresses with her version of the Lemonhead’s “Being Around” and minus Sloane performs “Pickles from the Jar” with some gargantuan drumming courtesy of Mudie. Self confessed “fuckwit” Sloane makes up for his absence by extolling the the virtues of Melbourne institution The Old Bar and the evening sadly comes to an end with lyrically colourful “History Eraser” much to the disappointment to the fans who want more.
Barnett’s star shines bright, her guitar playing, music, autobiographical lyrics and lo-fi delivery strikes a chord with audiences here and abroad and blew the lid off the Forum on Thursday night.