The kickass storytelling slacker rocker Courtney Barnett doesn’t do much slacking in her Liverpool return.
The Champions League-esque midweek gig-nights in the Docklands of Liverpool are always a welcome one, even with (or especially with) Everton Football Club arriving across the road in a year-or-so, you won’t find an atmosphere like this.
Courtney Barnett hasn’t been in the city since her “You should’ve been there” gig for EVOL in 2016 that gave rise to local legend Zuzu, and her return is wildly anticipated.
Especially coming off her latest effort, Things Take Time, Take Time (Milk! Records, 2021), an acclaimed record much like all her others, co-produced with Warpaint‘s Stella Mowgaza, who traded in her drums for keys this evening.
So, this brings Courtney Barnett to the Invisible Wind Factory, named so for the lack of aircon (likely) but constantly shining as our city’s finest unique venue, only days after her Glastonbury performance.
However, before all of that, the wonderful audiobooks takes the opening slot.
audiobooks are always a wave of fresh air, their atypical, synth-driven sounds are populated, and creative, helmed by champion mixer David Wrench, who had previously done mixing work for the likes of Frank Ocean, the xx, and unsurprisingly, for Courtney Barnett‘s aforementioned latest record.
Fraternizing with the vocals of Evangeline Ling, with an unusually subdued and striking form, akin to possibly Laika‘s Margaret Fielder or maybe Björk, but their overall slice-of-life storytelling gives feelers of a new-age Fall.
Their half-an-hour or so set went by quickly, but certainly left an impression on the incoming crowd, singling out “The English Minuplation“, “LaLaLa It’s The Good Life“, as real earworms.
The Melbourne hero arrives shortly after 8pm, softly entering her set with “Rae Street“, and quickly followed by “Sunfair Sundown“, the opening duo from the latest album, a wonderful warm-in, before pulling out “Avant Gardener“, a sharp fan-favourite that sets the crowd alight.
It’s obvious from the get-go, and Barnett acknowledges, that the Liverpool crowd have been waiting for this night for a long time.
“Need a Little Time“, and “Nameless, Faceless” follow, attentive and weaving tracks from the album-before-last. Barnett’s unique storyteller rock n’ roller image is in fine form, balancing finely with her backing band.
With a few more tracks, including “Small Poppies” from her breakout Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Barnett tells the crowd about her “Top Five” gig moment at the O2 Academy in 2016, it’s a lovely moment of remembrance for the acclaimed night.
During the latter half, Barnett pulls out “On Script“, from her collaboration with Kurt Vile, soon after, the kick-drum beats its way through the room, taking a swig of her drink Barnett asks if the crowd is alright, to which they reply with a loud applause, before she almost slams us right into “Elevator Operator“, a sure-fire hit of her catalogue.
Taking time to cool off, they wander into a beauty from Things Take Time, “If I Don’t Hear from You Tonight“, with Courtney spoiling the story beforehand with a grin. It’s a warm song, and one of the best of the evening.
Into the fearless rundown, their follow-up is “History Eraser“, before diving head-first into Sometimes I Sit duo of classics, “Pedestrian at Best“, which sounds absolutely huge, and “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party“, which surprisingly we understand it wasn’t played the night before.
“Lance Jr.”, a somewhat surprising addition and finally, the highlight single of the latest release, “Write a List of Things to Look Forward To“, a brimming song from her lockdown record that moves along nicely.
Like clockwork, they return for two more, both new songs and both tremendous inclusions, the slow and endearing “Oh the Night“, which clearly isn’t like any of song in her selection, and to close, “Before You Gotta Go“.
The crowd adorned for the entire show here tonight, it felt too long since Barnett was in-town, but nonetheless, we’re treated to the EVOL classic that we were hoping for, a gig to ask “where you there?” perhaps, I’m sure we’re hoping we’ve struck Courtney Barnett‘s top five, maybe?
Words by Jack Cinnamond. Photography by Jessica Sharpe.