Elle King and Barns Courtney Rock a Sold Out Show at the Neptune Theatre

By: Mehlika Eski

May 21, 2019

Photo by Leslie Dylan


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The two singer-songwriters bring a taste of rock and roll to Seattle on Elle King’s “Shake The Spirit Tour”


Rock and roll is far from dead – and both Barns Courtney and Elle King are proof of that. They both embody different elements of the timeless genre, not only in their music but in their presences on stage as well.

Barns Courtney kicked off the show with a brand new, unreleased song called “Fun Never Ends.” Though born in England, Barns Courtney was raised in the Seattle area, so last night was a hometown show for him and you could tell that he was feeding off of the room’s energy. He played another new song, “London Girls,” before jumping into “Hands,” a very blues-y rock song from his 2017 album The Attractions of Youth, during which he pulled out a harmonica and played a few bars into his mic before tossing it across the stage.

Photo by Leslie Dylan

Barns has this wild, electrifying energy on stage – he so easily demands the complete attention of the crowd, dancing and running back and forth on the stage or coming down to the crowd to sing a few lines before leaping back to the stage from the top of the barricade. There were a couple times where he would go from one side of the stage to the other, throwing his arm up in the air and making the crowd cheer, back and forth until the entire room was in an uproar. He is incredibly enticing and it’s impossible to not want to give him your full attention.

Photo by Leslie Dylan

He played his newest single that was released a couple weeks ago, a beautiful song called “You & I,” as well as “99,” another single released late year. Barns closed his set with the heavy, hard-hitting track “Kicks,” before ending with “Fire,” during which he came into the middle of the audience to sing the last chorus as everyone jumped and sang along. This was one of the most fun sets I’ve experienced, and Barns Courtney is absolutely a rock star in his own right.

Photo by Leslie Dylan

The last time we saw Elle King was at Summer Camp last year, where she killed the set playing new songs from her Shake The Spirit album and included a wild moment with an unexpected flashing to make sure everyone was wide awake. But last night’s show felt like a completely different beast and was an absolute treat from every spot in that theatre.

Elle, wearing this big pink gaucho hat, came out on stage with a full band – named “The Brethren” – and opened her set with a heavy rock beat, the song being “Last Damn Night” from her 2015 album Love Stuff. My initial thought was bewilderment over just how powerful her vocals were – her voice filled up the entire room, and I could not stop thinking about it the whole night. My amazement continued as she sang “Shame,” her first single from Shake The Spirit, and I was even more surprised when she was handed a banjo to play for the next song. So not only does Elle King possess incredible, raw vocal talent, she can also play the banjo and guitar!

Photo by Leslie Dylan

Elle definitely has this Americana vibe, a beautiful mix of blues and rock and roll and good bit of country; a little bit of something for everyone. A crowd favorite was “Good to Be a Man” from her The Elle King EP, released in 2012, which had people cheering and hollering after every line that she sang. My personal favorite moment was when she sang “Chained,” written and performed with Cameron Neal. It’s a slow, dreamy song, and hearing it live with those vocal harmonies gave me goosebumps all the way from where I was sitting in the back of the mezzanine. Directly following this moment, she sang “Runaway,” and she so effortlessly hit and held those high notes at the end of the chorus.

Photo by Leslie Dylan

Of course, towards the end of the set, Elle sang her ever-popular song “Ex’s & Oh’s,” which the audience was so into, followed by the closing track to Shake The Spirit, “Little Bit Of Lovin’.” As an encore, Elle King and The Brethren came back out all together to the front of the stage to do a broken-down version of “America’s Sweetheart,” which had the audience singing along, louder than ever; truly one of the most powerful moments of the whole night.

Overall, it was one hell of a night with two exceptional artists that keep the spirit of rock and roll alive. If you missed out on this show, fret not – Barns Courtney will be back in Seattle on October 2nd at Neumos. As for Elle King, we can only hope she returns soon!

Photo by Leslie Dylan

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