Something For Kate, Courtney Barnett Band @ The Metro 01/06/13
Something For Kate got a first hand reminder of why it pays to have a devout audience last Saturday. Due to technical difficulties and band frustration early on, energy started to flag. The crowd never lost their enthusiasm however, at points they were carrying the show. It was maybe because of this that the band reciprocated their affection and managed to pull off a good gig.
Before that though, the Courtney Barrett Band announced themselves as a band to watch. Unlike the headliners, their technical difficulties were met with good humour. Courtney after one of her strings broke asked “Does anyone have a spare left-handed guitar”, followed by a bass string breaking and the question “Does anyone have a spare band?”. With a blues style that’s located at the intersection between Lucinda Williams and Velvet Underground while maintaining an unmistakable Australian inflection, she impressed the crowd, especially with the sprawling closer ‘History Eraser’.
The main band then appeared, and at first it seemed business as usual for Something For Kate; a great, engaging gig filled with songs spanning their entire career. The first five songs featured selections from Elsewhere For 8 Minutes (‘Captain’), Beautiful Sharks (‘Hallways’) and Official Fiction (‘Kaplan/Thornhill’) as well as last year’s excellent Leave Your Soul To Science. But then, after the first verse of recent single ‘Survival Expert’, something went wrong. Frontman Paul Dempsey was annoyed by his guitar being out-of-tune, and after a few attempts to salvage it he killed the song after ripping the guitar off and hurling it to the side of stage, presumably at the roadie. After that, with no explanation of what happened, they launched into a particularly vicious “Anarchitect”, but the previous incident created a tense atmosphere in the room. A couple of songs after that, Paul tried to start ‘Whatever You Want’, but more guitar trouble led him to comment “everything that could go wrong is going wrong tonight”.
The crowd didn’t seem to notice or mind; they still sang every word. Indeed, it was probably the crowd’s undying devotion that gave the band the appreciation and confidence to turn the gig around. The crowd sang everything, including all selections from the latest album (the best sounding material, which is always a good sign for a band with an almost 20 year career). They also sang along to two exclusive covers: Hunters and Collectors’ ‘When The River Runs Dry’ from an upcoming Hunters tribute album, and an incredible take of “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris and Florence Welch that featured Paul matching Florence’s trademark vocal gymnastics.
So it probably won’t be remembered as a hall of fame gig by the band. But they still managed to make 1350 people very happy, which is not something to shrug off.