Concert Review: Courtney Barnett Elemental Nights, Auckland Town Hall   25 July 2021

A dreaded Sunday and we meet at the Town Hall gates, Keats and Yeats perhaps on your side, while wild Courtney Barnett is on stage.

Solo Song Poet and left-handed guitarist. A big stage and the massive Town Hall organ behind, but Barnett fills the sold-out space with just her presence and her intense soulful Folk voice.

Avant Gardener opens her set to a huge cheer. Patti Smith and Dylan wrapped in one songster. I get adrenaline/ Straight to the heart/ I feel like Uma Thurman/ I’m having trouble breathing in. Stark, a melodic Folk Rap. Evocative and immediately compelling.

She continues to weave the spell for the rest of the night.

Emily Edrosa

Emily EdrosaEmily Edrosa opens the show tonight and she is a sister-in-arms also playing solo. Her musical heart comes from the original Seventies Punk. Melodic Power Pop informed by wit and fury. Another definition of Rock’n’Roll.

She has been solo for several years but ran in a Power Pop-Punk trio Street Chant a little over ten years ago.

You Do the Maths. Simple riffs and melodic Hard Pop with Punk energy in the style of the early Clash or Jam.

Also, Melbourne. Scathing and edgy lyrics about relationships. Works up a nice Eastern drone melody on guitar in nice Velvet Underground touch.

She Agreed addresses a gay relationship with disarming honesty. Took her notes and flushed them down the loo/ I tried to flush her, too/ Just let her be. The guitar wells up in discordant tones.

Without a band she has a low-fi approach which allows the well-crafted songs to shine without over-embellishing. Over-playing is often a tool to cover a paucity of ideas

The Corner of the Party is arresting. Nice ringing guitar entry leads into funny and scathing lyrics. Calling me a cunt/ Which son-of-a-bitch is leading this witch-hunt? The guitar lays out more Eastern drones and tasty dirty licks.

Courtney Barnett

Courtney BarnettCourtney Barnett tells us a little about how life changed for artists last year when the whole world entered into fear and madness. Big tours and big plans all disappeared. She is completing a packed two-week New Zealand tour. With events as they stand now, she is lucky.

This elation of spirit under dark clouds informs the whole evening tonight in a special performance.

City Looks Pretty and the Dylan Patti Smith influence continues. Frames it with nice ringing guitar riffs.

A few new songs are presented tonight from a forthcoming album. Rae Street and keyboard player Stella is on-stage. Electronic percussion effects add to a great rhythm riff. The deep influence of The Velvets is in Barnett’s music also.

Courtney BarnettThen it’s time for some Country Americana with a cover of Arthur Russell’s I Never Get Lonesome. More the Byrds style of Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Beautiful smooth and uplifting singing.

Similar bit of magic with Gillian Welch’s Let It Go. Melodic Folk Pop.

Depreston is another stand-out. Witty observational story-telling. Super melody with some Rolling Stones Country Rock guitar licks wound into it. As in You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Her lefty guitar can sound like a whole band and is a delight throughout. The sound desk has excelled in delivery tonight and make full use of the space.

Oh, The Night. Another new one with the keyboards adding celestial tones. A bright Pop tune which has impact in being understated.

Courtney BarnettBefore You Gotta Go has synth drone beats like Suicide. Barnett syncs with the beat in her vocals and the subtle ringing tones from the guitar are striking.

Closes with a favourite, Nameless Faceless. In a graceful Folk Pop melody, the lyrics address the issue of men’s violence and women’s fear. Unsettling and beautiful.

Almost. Comes back to encore with Sunday Roast and the audience are left feeling ecstatic.

A masterful and quite special show tonight. Informed by the spirit of music coming back to artists after a period of repression. She promises to be back soon with a band and a new album.

Rev Orange Peel    

Click any icon to view a gallery of each artist. Photos by Veronica McLaughlin Photography

Courtney Barnett
Emily Edrosa