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Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett performing at Mojos, Fremantle on March 8, 2014Mojos Bar
Saturday, March 8, 2014

With the honour of touring nationally to open for renowned wordsmith Billy Bragg, Courtney Barnett took the opportunity to play her own show at Mojo’s. Her laconic delivery belies that she is a clear self-starter as the owner of Milk! Records, and having made waves well beyond her native Melbourne.

Starting the evening off were local chaps Hamjam who played up to the Fremantle stereotype by wearing clothes that looked like they had been slept in for the past week. There is nothing pretty about the way that they go about their business with their guitars worn way too high as they create tunes that focus on creating grooves more than melody. The vocals were presented on the verge of a growl at times and tunes having thrown away titles like The Fast One. Overall, Hamjam were at times entertaining and at other times as tedious as having a ham sandwich stuck in the roof of your mouth.

Courtney Barnett has been making waves with her two EPs and a swag of rave reviews from her recent performances in the US. Those who had seen the quirky YouTube clips or heard the lo-fi recordings were in for a shock if they were expecting the same delivery at the live show. Barnett, who looks somewhat like a female version of Ben Kweller, also adapted his rocking approach to performing pop songs.

The tall left-hander led her power trio through songs off the two releases with a more muscled up and electric take on the tunes. Out Of The Woodwork was almost unrecognisable as the usually piano-fronted number was given a solid guitar workout that was driven hard by the rhythm section.

The song about having an anaphylactic shock in the middle of a heatwave, Avant Gardener, was aired towards the middle of the set and was clearly the song that people had most come to see. Barnett’s strong lyrics coupled with her obvious Australian accent make for an interesting listen, even when musing about masturbating to songs that a friend wrote on Lance Jr.

The majority of the evening was filled with the songs from The Double EP such as Scotty Says and the delightfully catchy History Eraser but it was when Barnett trotted out new material that you could see how comfortable she has become in her own skin. This may have been the first headline show in Perth for Barnett (and a sold-out venue to boot), but there is no doubting she will continue to build on her pulling power.

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

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