Gig review: Courtney Barnett at O2 Academy Leeds

There's a plethora of young women in high-waisted trousers, white T-shirts and straight-cut fringes, but none of them are Courtney Barnett yet all of them could be.

Courtney Barnett. Picture: Pooneh Ghana
Courtney Barnett. Picture: Pooneh Ghana

What I love about slacker-rock, and I don’t mean the term in a derogatory sense, is the ability to make playing a guitar seem accessible and relatable. It says to the audience, ‘grab a guitar, we’re off on tour’.

Courtney Barnett, now onto album number two Tell Me How You Really Feel, takes to the stage for the final UK date of her tour at the O2 Academy Leeds, and announces she is about to play the whole album. A risky strategy, but then Barnett does her own thing as an artist and it’s the no-compromise attitude that has won her a wealth of fans.

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Single cuts from the album such as City Looks Pretty, Nameless, Faceless and Sunday Roast get a great reception from the crowd and Barnett’s melancholy drawl and lyrics drip down the walls in sweet, syrupy tears.

Considering Barnett’s ability to pen an uplifting song about a man attempting to jump off a roof, the new album lacks the tongue-in-cheek irony that the first did so well, and it’s to the night’s detriment that she chooses to leave two great debut tracks, Pedestrian at Best and Elevator Operator, until the closing part of the set.

Playing the guitar with nonchalant ability is a skill in itself, however the pace is lazy at times and desperately needed a mix in moods to keep the night interesting, which unfortunately at times was anything but.