Accompanying the release of sophomore record 404, Barns Courtney is currently touring across the UK and Europe taking his new tracks on the road for the first time since supporting The Hunna in April.
Opening the show in Leeds, was Will and the People. Having never heard of the band, we went down the stairs of the famous Leeds venue with open eyes and ears and I have to say, I was so, so impressed with what I saw. Over the 40 minute set, Will Rendle and co. performed every musical style and genre from reggae, to indie to ska and it was beautiful. From the mellow Gigantic to fan favourite Salamander, Will and the People continued to break musical norms with each and every passing track. I have since gone on to listen to the band’s three records in full and am a little addicted. Will and his band return to Leeds in April and I already can’t wait to check them out again!
Following such a raucous, energetic set is never easy, but there is nobody on the circuit at the moment with more energy and passion for a live show than Barns Courtney. Opening with Fun Never Ends, which is currently sat in our Official Top 40 of 2019, Barns and the band burst onto the Wardrobe stage and the heat in the room rose almost instantly.
Barns played a whole host of new tracks which went down well with the sold-out crowd. Hollow and London Girls were standouts from 404 which was released less than 6 weeks ago. Compared to The Attractions of Youth, the debut 2017 record, 404 is eclectic but more pop-oriented providing the foot stomping, dancing tracks that were perhaps missing from the old Barns show.
It was Glitter and Gold and Golden Dandelions that really got the Leeds crowd going though. Amongst the humour and comedy that Barns oozes on stage, it was the big tracks from his debut that raised the roof of The Wardrobe. Golden Dandelions always impresses live and the vocal chords of the crowd were well tuned calling back to Barns. Champion and Kicks whilst not as well known, were anthemic live and added some variety to the set.
Three moments stand-out to me looking back on the show. First, the incredible rendition of Little Boy which showed a fundamentally different, more vulnerable side to Barns’ performance – it was played with such truth and honesty, I found myself genuinely lost in a moment listening, in awe. Second, 99, as a member of the audience got up on stage to play rhythm (albeit not incredibly), you could tell it made this young lads night and year and it was great to watch someones dreams coming to life in front of us all.
Set highlight though was, as always, the finale, Fire, one of the greatest songs written this decade, performed live. The crowd had been waiting for it for the entire hour and it didn’t disappoint. Barns was as in form at the end as he was at the start and it was a classy end to the set. How he has the energy I’ll never know, running, climbing, playing, singing, dancing, he has it all and he’s got a good band backing him up. This was a quality, quality show and anyone who was there, or at any show on this run, knows they’ve seen something truly special.