Angel Olsen @ The Brightside

Voice of an angel..

You know when a gig gets moved to the Brightside Backyard, that it’s gonna be big, and Angel Olsen was definitely no exception. Touring in support of her phenomenal album ‘My Woman’, I was hoping Angel Olsen would live up to my expectations (and also that the weather would hold out in the ourdoors location).

Opening up the night was Sydney solo act Jack Ladder, who was playing a solo set with just a guitar and his deep, baritone voice. He started playing at 8.45, and his deep, soothing vocal timbre pairedwith folk-rock guitar riffs was almost reminiscent of Paul Dempsey or Nick Cave. Sonically, all his songs were mesmerising and filled with apparent technical musicianship, however, he didn’t have much of a stage presence, and for someone who wasn’t familiar with many of his songs, it was a bit boring, as there wasn’t much variation in terms of melody and chords. The music tended to blend into the background a bit of The Brightside, and I feel like it would have been more greatly appreciated in a more intimate venue.

Angel Olsen took to the stage at just past 10pm, her 6 piece band strategically placed on the stage in their uniform of silver suits and black ties. With the possibility of rain in the near future, the audience were on edge for her to start playing. She opened her set with ‘You’ll Never Be Mine’, and continued to play through tracks ‘Hi 5’, new single ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’, ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Heart Shaped Face’, before addressing the crowd (who were unusually silent).

Limited stage banter created a blasé and almost rude stage presence, which took away slightly from her phenomenal voice, (which soared beyond the standard that her album set in my opinion). For the most part, it almost seemed like she didn’t want to be there, and was just going through the motions of a set, however, like her support act, I feel like she would have benefitted from a more intimate venue, as the deadpan bluntness can be appropriately consumed in those venues. This aside, the prowess of her band was what made the show so incredible.

She played a collection of older tracks and album tracks, which made for an exciting show for both new and old fans. Highlights of the night were single ‘Sister’, and album track ‘Not Gonna Kill You’, partly because it’s my favourite song from the new record, and I was stoked that she played it, but also because of the amazing light show that accompanied it, and took it to a new level both visually and sonically. She finished her set with ‘Give It All Up’, which excited the crowd (who were still very quiet and reserved).

After a bit of coaxing from the audience, she came back on for an encore, and played a 3 piece arrangement of ‘Intern’, which was haunting and mesmerising, and then a grandiose extended band version of title track ‘Woman’, which was an absolute stellar performance, and the most alive and excited she had appeared on stage for the whole night.

All in all, Angel Olsen is an amazing musician, which is blatantly obvious from both her recorded and live work, however, I wish that bands would do some research on venues before choosing one to play at that may not always be appropriate. I hope to see her again in a more intimate venue or with a more respondent crowd to see the full picture.

-Olivia Shoesmith.

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