Angel Olsen + Tim Darcy @ Nottingham Rock City -18th May 2017

Posted by Zyllah Moranne-Brown on Thursday May 18, 2017 Under Country, Folk, Indie, Rock

Review by Toni Woodward with photography by Gunnar Mallon.

Tonight’s performance has been upgraded from the Rescue Rooms due to demand. Angel Olsen’s popularity has been steadily increasing thanks to rave reviews of her latest album,’My Woman.’

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Support tonight comes from Tim Darcy, (in another life frontman for Montreal quartet Ought) and now out in his own right.

Tim Darcy performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Tim Darcy performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Tim Darcy performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Horrific traffic on the motorway means that I missed the first fifteen minutes of the set, including my favourite song, the impassioned, ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’. But walking in late to see Olsen and her band on stage in front of a metallic fringed backdrop, shrouded in simple lights, is reminiscent of the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. It isn’t only that the band are wearing pale blue suits with shoestring ties, but Olsen in her satin white dress with her hint of nostalgic crooner, reminds me of Julee Cruise musically seducing Agent Cooper. However, this is dispelled when Olsen engages with the audience, after ‘High & Wild’, complaining about having to tune her guitar after every song.

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Olsen’s sultry drawl is incredibly endearing and even if you can’t pick out every lyric the sentiment she portrays is evident. By using additional backing vocals, this allows Angel Olsen to experiment further with the melody and not settle for duplication by weight.

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, NottinghamAngel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Last time I saw Olsen it was in a 200 capacity venue, yet the transition into larger venues has allowed her to increase the number of musicians on stage with her therefore creating a fuller sound which is required for her latest album. It isn’t only the sound that has changed, she is comfortable sharing jokes, laughing at mistakes made and dealing with shouts from the audience, including one about trying to be “not too thirsty” with her new cat.  The cat reference seamlessly leads in to ‘Acrobat’, demonstrating her skill at changing the timbre of her voice moving from a richness of Patsy Cline to a coarseness of Kat Bjelland in one beat. It is during this song you see Olsen conducting the band pushing them to increase the dynamics and intensity creating an expressive swell of sound which is an addition to the recorded version.

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

For most of the set, Olsen plays guitar however, for the track ‘Woman’ she moves to the organ to produce the swirling sounds that resonate through the song. The main section of the set finishes with ‘Windows’, a delicate number that is enriched by a softer vocal over the low level repetitive musical line that builds in line with the drum beat producing a subtle crescendo.

The exit from the stage is brief and Olsen returns as a lone figure to start the stark ‘Unf***ktheworld’, towards the ending of the song the musicians return to produce the final punch of this awesome track. ‘Fly On The Wall’ is Olsen’s contribution to a project called ‘Our First 100 Days’, an anti-Trump event where a new track from artists were released every day for the first 100 days to illustrate the negative impact of his presidency.

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

Angel Olsen performing solo at Rock City, Nottingham

The regimented drum beat and bass line create a different atmosphere to her latest musical offerings and as it was my first listen, it stuck out as one of my favourite tracks of the night. The performance draws to a close with the gut-wrenching ‘Never Be Mine’ and ‘The Waiting’, in which Olsen abandons her guitar and exploits her palpable connection with her backing singer to great effect.

Angel Olsen is rightly going from strength to strength as her song writing becomes more sophisticated and her live performance more polished and suited to the bigger venues; I can’t believe we have seen a fraction of what this musician is capable of.

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