Barns Courtney performs with the fire you would expect from the singer of the hit song of the same name: “Fire”. A true rockstar at 26, Courtney oozes the confidence of a seasoned pro, and the wit of a celebrated comedic performer. This is no surprise as he has been at it, so to speak, since age three, when he got his “teddy bears all lined up, singing into a plastic microphone.”
You may have heard “Fire”, Courtney’s first US single, on SiriusXM, in the Bradley Cooper film, “Burnt”, or in ad campaigns by Showtime, BOSE, and Volkswagen.
Wearing all black, Courtney exploded on to the stage at the El Rey Theatre on Tuesday, May 9, with the unreleased song, “Hobo Rocket”, which is actually on the FIFA 17 Official Soundtrack. The song opens up with a series of repetitive, energetic rallying cries, “hey hey hey hey…”, and the crowd warmed up quickly.
“It’s nice to have people like my music, but that’s fleeting,” he says. “The real reward is that exchange of energy when the singer and the crowd are both on the same level—when there’s an equal playing ground and we’re all in it together.” In the spirit of getting the crowd on the same level, Courtney did a call-and-response, while performing the song “Glitter and Gold”; a hit on the Spotify UK Viral Chart.
Beyond all those lip-synching the lyrics and nodding along the entire time, there was a real connection with the audience as Courtney told personal anecdotes in between songs and made jokes. A few songs into the show, Courtney poured water on his head, jokingly saying he was diluting the sweat in his hair, so he could pretend the sweat was just water.
There were energetic, high-BPM songs and then slower, more poignant ones like “Hard to be Alone”. But Courtney didn’t let the audience dwell in the shadow of the touching song about loneliness and made up a joke Christmas song on the spot before going into “Attractions of Youth”.
The entire set list felt familiar, beyond factual familiarity with the songs. If I had not known any better, I would have thought all these songs were covers of perhaps forgotten former hits. Each one felt like a chart-topper.
The show ended with the song “Fire”, and Courtney did not disappoint. He smashed his guitar with so much gusto, it was almost like he was trying to break the stage, versus just the guitar. Fans gathered pieces for autographs. Courtney currently has over 830K listeners across Europe and the US on Spotify alone right now, but check back soon for a much larger number as he plays a slew of shows and festivals through the summer, “sweating [his] little tits off for your viewing pleasure!”
Here is the full set-list from the show at the El Rey:
Never Let You Down
Glitter and Gold
Hard to be Alone
Attractions of Youth