Indie singer-songwriter Angel Olsen cast a spell over Marble Factory earlier this month, and Anna Lezard was there to absorb her angelicness.
Watching Angel Olsen at times felt like just looking at her through the window of a studio while she's recording. At first, the performance seems detached, and then you realise you actually feel intimately involved in the music just by being there, observing.
She emerges on stage looking over the Marble Factory and immediately jumps into ‘Never Be Mine’. The crowd suddenly forgets about the pungent cider-soaked floor and finds themselves immersed in her floating but powerful voice.
Olsen’s set tempo was beautiful, spurring through the upbeat radio hits and landing hard in the powerful yet tender feel of the latter half of her newest album, My Woman.
She does this with very few words to the audience, which only adds to her aura as the mysterious Coolest Girl In School. Eventually, any unapproachability to this image is shattered when she mutters something about trying not to look nervous, and suddenly her shyness is clear. Her face is far calmer than you would expect her to look given her voice’s enormity, and this makes the atmosphere of the music feel magic.
Olsen’s performance is somehow equal parts energising and soporific, her songs full of heart and crucially blended with pop. The light-hearted energy of ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ moves suddenly into the incredibly personal and moving ambience of ‘Heart Shaped Face’, and after a few more passionate ballads, she manages to make it feel like you have built up a dear friendship with her through a night of sharing secrets.
The band around her are so strong the audience would’ve been happy even if Olsen hadn’t shown up, as was proven by the closing song in which Olsen ran off stage before the end and left them to enjoy themselves. Kitted out in matching suits with bolo ties, they embody Olsen’s core old-school folksy style brought into modern sound. The set ends with the spotlight on them, and the audience is equally joyful. But they still want a proper goodbye from the leading lady and draw her out for an encore, where she sways us into a dreamworld once more with ‘Intern’ and ‘Woman’.
Olsen’s sound is swaying and haunting, tinged with a retro feel and filling up the cracks of its surrounding space. She and her band managed to echo this perfectly in their performance, capturing their own tone well enough to distract from the venue’s cider stink and constantly beeping tills.
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