There’s a good turn out at the SWG3 for Angel Olsen tonight; merely three months since this reviewer last saw her in a 200 cap venue her band has grown to a six piece, Olsen herself with her fabulous vocals and guitar, two guitarists, bassist, drummer and backing vocalist and occasional keyboard player, with the exception of Olsen, all kitted out in matching blue suits and bolo ties.
The band walks onto a backing track of synths that echoes the tones that kick off Olsen’s album, My Woman, then the band open with ‘Never Be Mine’, quickly followed by ‘Hi Five’, lead single from her last album Burn Your Fire for No Witness and the country tinged sound of the slightly out tune telecaster add to the harmony of the band’s attire and songs.
Then the lights change, focusing purely Olsen for one of the greatest songs of the year, ‘Shut up, Kiss Me’, played slightly slower than the recorded version.
In a dark mood tonight, Olsen seems to deliver the song with a hint of resentment to the number and this idea is firmed up when next track, ‘Lights Out’ is dedicated to “everyone who wants to leave now”, then as disclaimer of sorts where Olsen tells the crowd not to throw anything on stage.
‘Heart Shaped Face’ and ‘Sister’, the heart of the LP, display the most 70s LA laidback Fleetwood Mac sounds by most reviews read.
Working with the 50s/60s country sound of Olsen and backing vocalist Heather’s harmonies and the open feel of the other instrumentalists with the band at times sounding like Grizzly bear.
The set picks up momentum in contrast to Olsen’s mellowing mood, ‘It’s Not Gonna Kill You’ hits with the belting out of “who is your truest friend?” in a plea that wouldn’t go a miss on a Smiths’ song.
This and ‘Forgive/Forgotten’ make use of the triple guitar line up thickening up the crescendos that will be rushing the stages of the bigger venues already booked for next year.
Ending the main body of the set is ‘Give It Up’, apologies for ruining it for you but once you hear the similarity the main riff shares to Puddle of Mudd it cannot be separated, Olsen leaves the stage as the band play out.
A brief moment of silence and the band returns, with the Olsen focusing on the organ and Heather on Micro Korg, to end on ‘Woman’.
There is no doubt that the songs from My Woman are some of the best indie guitar music this year, the blend of concepts to make the Twin Peaks tinged neo country makes for sublime moments when paired with the pipes of Olsen.
The reverbs that emphasize the isolation of the songs are present tonight however ruined by the next act.
Words: Paul Choi
Photos: Stewart Fullerton