Courtney Barnett – The Tivoli

Courtney Barnett – The Tivoli

Written by Jack Gobbe

Photos by Markus Ravik


It was immediately heart-warming, if not surprising, to see so many older music fans in the crowd as I entered The Tivoli. While one might initially assume that Courtney Barnett would almost solely appeal to a typically younger, Triple J listening crowd, the lauded Aussie post-punk star took the music world by storm by more than just speaking to the youth.


Barnett’s witty, observational commentary injected into undeniably catchy song writing and instrumentation reminiscent of alt-rock acts a few decades prior display a streak of timelessness that only grew more apparent after her latest album, ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’.


Any follow-up to a critically acclaimed, not to mention Grammy nominated album will meet inevitably high expectations, none of which seemingly phased Barnett upon listening to the record. Both uniquely different and similar to her debut, ‘Tell Me…’ saw Barnett tap into her introspective view on the world, going beyond the deadpan albeit brilliant social commentary found on her earlier work.


While many artists would open with a beloved fan favourite, Barnett’s knack for non-conformity is realised in her decision to open with the first two tracks from her recent release. Both ‘Hopefulessness’ and ‘City Looks Pretty’ portray Barnett in an arguably bolder sounding fashion in comparison to her earlier material, emphasising her development as an artists and offering the audience a glimpse of what to come.


As the shimmering conclusion to ‘City’ drew to a close, Barnett greeted everyone in one of few direct interactions with the crowd. Her reserved nature is charming, relying on the music to speak for itself. And when she does speak in between tunes, it is nothing but gratitude for the audience. Said crowd found immediate familiarity with the subsequent ‘Avant Gardner’, one of Barnett’s earliest hits that shed light on her stylistic use of her distinct Aussie accent and witty social commentary.


Barnett’s uniquely Australian drawl in her material is well known, although she is not without fine-tuned vocals when she so desires. Her vocal range immediately became apparent after the croon of ‘Avant Gardner’ was followed by the serenading ‘Need a Little Time’, another highlight from the latest record and the very set itself.


Whereas a politically charged track like ‘Nameless Faceless’ would spur most artists to preface with a statement, Barnett stays true to her little stage talk and rolls right into the standout from her latest record. Underpinned with a call for men to keep misogyny in check, it was nothing but a testament to Barnett to find everyone singing along to this track like it was a feel-good and easy going tune.


Barnett was met with similar fanfare in her outstanding performance of ‘Depreston’, the beloved anthem jam-packed with references of everything to life in Melbourne to saving money on coffee. In other words, quintessential Courtney Barnett.


If anything, the encore proved to be a tight summation of the night, with ‘Anonymous Club’ finding Barnett at her best vocally, while ‘Pedestrian at Best’ closed the night with a typical if not brilliant raucous, self-loathing and witty anthem.


With two undeniably outstanding albums under her belt, the world seems as if it belongs to Courtney Barnett right now. Funnily enough, all I want to hear is what this world is like to this fierce Aussie talent.