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Courtney Barnett visiting from Australia with love

Andre Lamar * Delaware
andre.lamar@doverpost.com
Dover Post

She gigged at Firefly twice. She played “MTV Unplugged” in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia last year. She’s even one of a few who performed inside of a giant brain (seriously).

Australian rocker Courtney Barnett is traversing the United States on a solo acoustic tour. The singer-songwriter will drop by The Queen in Wilmington Thursday, Jan. 23.

Last month Barnett released her latest album, “MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne). 

Barnett dished on the bushfire crisis that’s been plaguing Australia, how her “MTV Unplugged” performance re-energized her, and what it’s like playing inside a massive brain.

What are you most proud of from 2019?

We did an “MTV Unplugged” recording. I enjoy how that came together. I was really proud of that performance and my band.

How did that come about?

We’d been asked to perform and I put together a slightly different band and slightly different instrumentation, like a piano and cello. I asked a few friends to come and do some duets. It was a fun process and different. It was slightly challenging, but rewarding.

Are there any takeaways?

Definitely. Approaching the songs differently is almost like relearning some of the songs. My solo shows are kinda similar. I learn how to play them again in a different way, almost like how I wrote them in the first place. It challenges the muscle memory of years of touring. So it’s like a deep refresh.

How do you typically stay refreshed on the road?

I try to keep active and physical and go out exploring, visiting art galleries, talking to people, and remembering what it is we’re doing and to be grateful for it. It’s pretty easy to get bogged down in the monotony of tour sometimes. But I’m really grateful to perform.

There have been serious bushfires back in Australia. Has that helped you to stay focused on what’s important to you?

Oh yeah, definitely. There’s moments like that all the time, especially at the moment it’s extra [important] because it’s so close to home. It’s definitely a huge wake-up call. We’ve organized a few fundraiser shows and they were really amazing to see how communities come together to help each other. I think that’s been a really beautiful thing.

How close have the fires been to Melbourne?

They’re kind of northeast at the moment, along the coast, maybe a couple hours in the car [away from there]. There’s other fires in other places. But at the moment, that’s a big chunk of where the smoke is drifting down.

An Australian buddy said bushfires happen there yearly and the government basically doesn’t do anything about it. Has the government done enough to help?

Your friend sounds exactly right. The government hasn’t done enough. We’ve always had bushfires. But it’s much, much worse this year. Our government are huge climate-change denialists. They’ve taken away funding from places that need it. They’ve kinda refused to help or show any empathy at all. What the government is supposed to represent, or what they’re literal job is, the people in the streets are doing all the work the government should be doing, that they’ve been elected to do. It’s really disappointing.

On a brighter note, what was it like performing inside a brain in your “Everybody Here Hates You” video?

I thought it was a great concept for a video. My friend Danny Cohen came up with that. He’s done a few of my videos. It’s so simple. It’s that idea of being stuck inside your own head and everything kind of closing in, personal anxiety and all that. I like it. It’s such a simple but effective concept.