Courtney Barnett and co give Sydney a night to remember

Believe the hype. Courtney Barnett nailed her show at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre with some great support from Cloud Control and Wil Wagner.

Over the weekend, the Enmore Theatre’s stage was home to an impressive line-up with Courtney Barnett headlining and support from Cloud Control and Wil Wagner (The Smith Street Band).

The show was one of three in a mini tour for Barnett, with all shows sold out. Perth were first to witness the BRIT Award nominee’s* talent, with a sold out Melbourne show following her appearance in Sydney. The BRIT Award Barnett is nominated for is International Female Solo Artist, but despite her international recognition, her shyness between songs reveals that her humbleness is here to stay. While she was evidently appreciative of the sold out crowd, Barnett doesn’t let any of it go to her head.

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Wil Wagner was first to hit the stage, sporting a Kendrick Lamar t-shirt as he was greeted by a building crowd awaiting his performance. Having seen The Smith Street Band multiple times, a solo set from the lead singer made me feel as though it would be incomplete. From the first strum of the guitar and burst of vocals, I was quickly proven wrong by the Melbournian. His set was a mixture of his own songs and tracks by his band, which the crowd likened to.

Wagner gazed out to the crowd after they sang along, smiling as he said “I didn’t even think anyone would know who I was, thanks so much for coming”. He revealed that playing at the Enmore has been a dream of his and his band’s and said hopefully they’ll be back there to play one day. Dedicating a song to the rest of The Smith Street Band, Wil continued to stun the crowd as his raw and charming performance made the huge venue seem intimate. Spotting Dave Leaupepe of Gang Of Youths, Wagner dedicated a song to him confessing his admiration for the band which Dave later responded to via a Facebook comment:

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During Wagner’s set, it was easy to forget that there was only one person on stage, as he gave his performance his all, which was definitely appreciated by the onlooking crowd. Finishing with Young Drunk as punters screamed the lyrics back at the stage, Wagner took one last look out at the crowd before leaving.

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Sydney four piece Cloud Control were energetically greeted by the excited crowd as they played a mixture of old and new material. Their energy was infectious as punters were using whatever room they may have had in a sold out crowd to dance. Triple J Presenter Dom Alessio described their set perfectly in an Instagram caption, saying “it’s like catching up with an old friend”.

Their alluring vocals and bubbly personalities seemed to be just what the crowd needed. At one point in their set two band members (lead singer/guitarist Al and bass player/vocalist Robert) kissed, after a light hearted disagreement about who it was that couldn’t remember how to play their track Dream Cave after it was requested from the audience. Although the crowd seemed to take a liking to the new material, their known tracks Promises and Scar are what really excited punters.

Their performance was warm and inviting while still being fun and electric with the band continuing their energetic bursts for the entire set. Lead singer Al’s voice is something that I could listen to daily, his distinct sound continues to impress even after multiple live shows. They’re a band who I highly suggest you see live if you are yet to do so.

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The anticipation in the crowd was building as the stage was prepped for CB3 to perform. The crowd erupted the second that the band members were visible. Courtney Barnett casually walked on to the stage and screams were louder. Without any time wasted, they begin playing Elevator Operator (a personal favourite of mine), which saw punters (certainly those in the front row at least) break into a frenzy. They’d been queuing outside and once in the venue, clinging to the barrier awaiting Barnett’s arrival. Now that it was here, their eyes were glued to the stage.

Barnett smashed out her witty lyrics as the crowd followed her through every turn in emotion during the songs, every change in pace. Into her set, Barnett casually dropped Jack White’s name as the band began to play Boxing Day Blues (Revisited), a song which Jack White and Barnett wrote together while in Nashville. It had been too long since Barnett had played a show in Sydney and the crowd were constantly trying to show the Melbourne indie rocker why she should play here more often.

Her track Debbie Downer was another highlight in her electric set, as she played tracks from her award winning album Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, mixed with older songs. At Barnett’s last show at the Metro Theatre, the age demographic was very different, with almost half the crowd being older than 40, perhaps they caught onto Barnett’s talent before Gen Y did, but this show saw a lot more teenagers there to applaud CB3 for their success.

Whatever age crowd members were, they united in their love for the talented musician. Courtney Barnett finished the night with Pedestrian At Best, leaving punters satisfied yet wanting to know where they can see the unique talent perform next as they flooded the merch desk on their departure.

*Ed: Also the winner of the front cover of the inaugural Happy Mag. Check out our Courtney Barnett interview in issue # 1.