Live Review: Courtney Barnett, Cloud Control, Methyl Ethel

8 January 2016 | 11:55 am | Craig English

"The palpable vibe was that she was going to tear the roof off the joint and of course she bloody did."

Home grown indie-pop outfit Methyl Ethel set the bar impressively high early in the evening with their infectious Fleetwood Mac-meets-Ween grooves. Heavily anchored by their bassist, the three-piece had no trouble lifting bums off seats and drawing people in closer to see just how much they've come into their own in the last 12 months. With bands swimming upstream harder than they've ever had to before, just for the smallest acknowledgement, these boys seem to have found the path of least resistance.

Starting off somewhat dubiously, Cloud Control quickly shook off the dust with the finely aged Meditation Song #2 — guitarist and frontman Alister Wright quickly discovering that the acoustic design of the Astor was very generous to his voice. The Smoke, The Feeling steered things in a more cosmic direction with Heidi Lenffer channelling Laurie Anderson, taking the crowd on a dreamy escapade. But they really nailed it when they all worked together in complete choral harmony on Gold Canary, undoubtedly the song of the set.

Against the odds, Courtney Barnett is doing exceptionally well for herself. Winning the adoration of the notoriously impenetrable American music scene has put her in supremely good stead among her peers, although clearly blanketed in humility, you'd be forgiven for thinking she'd only just been given a leg-up off the back of a decent open mic night. Well before she walked out on to the stage, the palpable vibe was that she was going to tear the roof off the joint and of course she bloody did, ignoring the minor glitches that hampered both Elevator Operator and Avant Gardener.

She's far too clever and inspired to be as apathetic as her lyrics suggest and she's deliberately unceremonious in wearing her heart on her sleeve as she thrashes about and lets her guitar do the screaming for her; case in point, Small Poppies. But as with any good purge, there's always a solemn relief, and Depreston roused a heartwarming singalong from an audience far too easily able to empathise with Barnett's reflections on a quiet but sometimes confronting suburban life. Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party had a sold out Astor dancing like it was the 1960s all over again, but it all came to a head with the untethered fury of Pedestrian At Best, and Barnett made a compelling case as to whom the title of Australia's most relatable songwriter should be passed on to once Paul Kelly calls it a day.

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