Review: Courtney Barnett at Norwich Waterfront

Courtney Barnett at Norwich Waterfront April 2015

Courtney Barnett at Norwich Waterfront April 2015 - Credit: Archant

It was only 11 months ago that Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett and her band last played Norwich, at Norwich Waterfront's upstairs studio in an intimate, but thrilling set.

Courtney Barnett at Norwich Waterfront - April 2015

Courtney Barnett at Norwich Waterfront - April 2015 - Credit: Archant

That gig came on the back of much acclaim and radio play for her brilliantly catchy single 'Avant Gardener' and anyone present that night will probably agree it felt like you were watching someone whose stock was about to rise.

And in the months since it has done just that, meaning her return to the city sees her housed in the main room of the venue - to a crowd of about twice the size.

A staggeringly busy touring schedule (I think she played every festival going last summer), yet more great singles and more recently a superb debut album 'Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit' have all played their part in building the buzz around the band, made up of Barnett (singer and lead guitar), the brilliantly named Bones Sloane (bass) and Dave Mudie (drums).

The increased crowd is not lost on Barnett herself who tells of walking through the Waterfront's main room prior to their first visit and being delighted not to have been playing in such a 'big and scary' venue.


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And that comment touches on part of the reason why I think Barnett's fanbase has swelled over the last 12 months - she comes across as real, perhaps a bit shy, very likeable, very normal - but supremely talented.

And this is reflected in her songs, tales of love, work, death - and, famously so now, even the real life story of a panic attack while gardening.

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Barnett's lyrics are superb, you can so often get lost in the story of her songs.

On 'Avant Gardener' she recalls: 'Halfway down high street, Andy looks ambivalent.

'He's probably wondering what I'm doing getting in an ambulance.

'The paramedic thinks I'm clever cause I play guitar.

'I think she's clever cause she stops people dying.'

Musically the guitars are fuzzy, often grungey and often catchy. There are moments when they're not the tightest band, but that can add to the charm.

They rip through a 90-minute set, highlights of which are 'Depreston', 'Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party', latest single 'Pedestrian At Best' and 'History Eraser'.

It might be too much to expect Barnett and her band to return in another 11 months, but when they do they'll be welcomed with open arms.

* Support act Spring King are enjoying BBC 6Music airplay at the moment for single 'City' and rightly so. There's a nod to both The Ramones and The Clash in their music and it's better for it.

And if you are heading to one of Barnett's remaining shows opener Fraser A Gorman is worth getting there early for. Another good storyteller accompanied by enjoyable folksy acoustic guitar.

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