Gig Review: Courtney Barnett at Brighton Concorde 2 – 27/03/2015

CA - Courtney Barnett 1 Mark K couldn’t get to Courtney Barnett’s London gig – so he figured he’d just go to Brighton instead… Might not seem to far but if his review’s anything to go by he’d have gone a lot further!
Check it out…


Courtney Barnett rolls into Brighton as part of her tour to promote her debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Arguably it isn’t actually her debut. In 2013 Courtney released a compilation of her two EPs, called A Sea Of Split Peas, which hung together very well as a collection of songs, but if she wants to call her current CD her debut, then who am I to argue??! CA - Courtney Barnett Album
As if to underline the purpose of her visit, the first two songs of the set are Elevator Operator and An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York) from the new album. After Lance Jr. Courtney jokingly tells us that the gig has ended because they don’t know any more songs! Someone suggests that they play some Beatles covers but Courtney claims not to have heard of them – Out of the Woodwork is therefore announced as a Beatles cover!

I’d seen Courtney Barnett once before, at the very crowded Horn in St Albans, and what struck me then as it does tonight, is what a rocking proposition Courtney and her band are live. The EPs comprising A Sea of Split Peas were recorded with an ever changing cast of musicians, so they weren’t as coherent as the current album, which was recorded with her stage band plus Dan Luscombe on additional guitar.

The recordings on A Sea of Split Peas were a bit polite; that does not apply onstage where there is much headbanging in evidence – Courtney and her band ROCK!!!

CA - Courtney Barnett (sourced from Wikipedia)

(Performing in 2014, source: Wikipedia)

The band clearly have a good time, and that’s contagious – though Courtney seems genuinely surprised to find a moshpit directly in front of her. The headbanging and general air of fun can disguise the band’s (and they are very much a band) musicality. They demonstrate their sense of dynamics in Depreston, which is a surprisingly moving song about viewing a deceased old lady’s house. They take everything right down to where you could almost hear a pin drop – and then build it up again for a crashing finale.
The set finishes with the great Avant Gardener, Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party, and Pedestrian At Best, during which Courtney’s voice develops a sub-Lemmy growl and sounds as if it’s about to give out. There’s no encore, but that doesn’t matter as this has been an energising hour with what is effectively a balls-out power trio with a tower of songs.


So, Courtney Barnett: skilled songwriter and wordsmith, engaging and adrenalized live performer.

What’s not to like??!!!

Mark Kelly