Courtney Barnett and Cassandra Jenkins at The Eastern, Atlanta

Friday, February 11th, 2022
 






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Courtney Barnett, Cassandra Jenkins
Courtney Barnett and Cassandra Jenkins at The Eastern, Atlanta, January 28th, 2022

Feb 10, 2022
By Mark Moody
Photography by Christa Joyner Moody
Web Exclusive


My first live music coverage since February 2020 brought an especially auspicious bill to Atlanta’s The Eastern for a sold out Saturday night show. It’s always nice when the opener and main set artist graced your best albums list of the prior year and here we had Australia’s Courtney Barnett supported by New York’s Cassandra Jenkins. The night prior they had played the legendary Ryman in Nashville, but The Eastern’s cavernous inverted shoebox interior holds no such pedigree. Instead, like Austin’s ACL Live and Madison’s The Sylvee, this new breed of venue makes up for a lack of flourishes with pristine acoustics and excellent overall sound. And what more could one ask for on that front.

Cassandra Jenkins

Cassandra Jenkins

Cassandra Jenkins

Cassandra Jenkins

Jenkins exuded a “just happy to be here” level of charm in her short but fan winning set. She performed solo with guitar, pulling her five-song setlist from last year’s quiet stunner, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature, and its later released companion piece. “New Bikini” particularly stood out, while the bass heavy thrum of “Hard Drive” took on shades of PJ Harvey’s bluesy To Bring You My Love crossed with The Velvet Underground’s steady chug. Ably filling in for Julia Jacklin on half of Barnett’s remaining U.S. tour, this was Jenkins’ last night of a handful of dates and she made the most of the moment.

Before the arrival of last year’s Things Take Time, Take Time, Barnett already had an embarrassment of riches to pull together taut and hit-filled setlists. The addition of last year’s more laid back and reflective affair just added more companions to round out the mix alongside gentler earlier songs like “Depreston.” Backed by long time collaborators Bones Howe (bass) and Dave Mudie (drums), Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, who was Barnett’s primary musical partner on the new album, added an array of keyboards to the mix but also managed to sneak in some electronic drumbeats and percussion from time to time.

Playing eight of Things Take Time’s 10 songs, Barnett left plenty of room for her ready made classics over a briskly paced 18 song run. The set started with the two laid back openers off the new album, “Rae Street” and “Sunfair Sundown.” Following those with “Avant Gardener” early on helped assure the crowd that a charitable mix of tunes was coming their way. Of her older songs, “Small Poppies” was particularly ferocious and the path from that song to 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel became clear. While the crunch of “Pedestrian at Best” later on proved another set highlight and perhaps the sight and sound of Barnett rocking out was made all the more satisfying from live music’s too long hiatus.

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Of her newer batch of songs, several proved even more low-key charming in a live setting. “If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight” was given a brightly sparkling rave-up of a treatment, while “Write a List of Things to Look Forward To” had a jangle pop polish that served to highlight one of the new album’s shiniest hooks. Taking in the last few songs of the night from a higher up vantage point, the stage set’s subtle shadings became more noticeable. Rotating light effects ranging from kaleidoscopic swirls to spider webs roamed the stage, while a set of flickering floor lamps gave off the homeyness of “Rae Street”’s setting. Given the richness of Barnett’s setlist, she kept the focus on the music and chit-chat to a minimum. Bringing the lockdown confines of the living room that inspired Things Take Time on the road with her and her band spoke plainly enough.

www.courtneybarnett.com.au

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

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