Live Review: Angel Olsen – Eventim Apollo, London – 11/2/20


ANGEL OLSEN By James Pearson

Angel Olsen is the soundtrack to your Tuesday night cry

For the biggest headline show of her career, Angel Olsen has that cool about her that makes you think this is just another Tuesday night that you just happen to be hanging out with Angel Olsen on. It’s been a long road to this point, being 8 years since her debut album ‘Half Way Home’ was released, but now feels like the right time for Angel Olsen to truly shine. Headlining a legendary venue, might just have made Angel Olsen a legend.

With new album ‘All Mirrors’ released last year to much critical acclaim, taking many of the highest positions on many ‘Album Of The Year’ lists, Angel set her sights on new grounds as she left behind the crunchy indie guitars of 2014’s ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’ and 2016’ ‘My Woman’ and set to explore the world of orchestras and synthesisers. 

Like the grandiose setting of the pictures inside the sleeve of ‘All Mirrors’, the Eventim Apollo has a certain aura about it that as soon as you walk near it, you know that whoever’s playing there has to be someone special. In the past its played host to such names as Queen, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie, but tonight the stage is Angel’s to own. 

Stage design choice for tonight is a simple but effective backdrop of the previously mentioned old theatre, set all in black and white, to take you on a nostalgia trip back to the 20’s and 30’s. For a while it was hard to tell if the stair case on the picture was real or not, which had me wondering, would Angel enter the stage via that entrance? 

The support for tonight comes from Indie folk-rock singer ‘Hand Habits’ and her band after the release of last years album ‘Placeholder’. An understated first few songs as she gages the audience, but they soon kick up the prowess as the audiences attention is quickly grabbed. For those that it doesn’t who choose to keep talking, a simple middle-finger is given to them and they are left to carry on their evening. 

After 40 minutes of rich storytelling and sweet melody’s, Hand Habits leave the stage to a much larger applause than when they entered, they are sure to become more than just a placeholder for these fans.

One of the most exciting parts of a show is easily trying to figure out which song an artists will walk on stage to. The mood setter for the whole evening, do it right and the audience will be captivated, desperate to see where the show takes them. Get it wrong and the audience may feel a little deflated and the artist will quickly have to win back their attention.

There were many songs off of ‘All Mirrors’ that could have made the cut, but the pounding bass line of ‘New Love Cassette’ definitely got it right. The band walks out, carefully attending to their instruments in orchestral fashion, there is a violinist and a cellist here tonight so its not far off. 

Then comes the reason everyone has convened here on a cold Tuesday evening. 

Angel Olsen’s stage attire is cooler than yours. A swaying glittery black dress, with frays hanging off from every edge and her hair in that classic 60’s ‘Beehive’ style she quickly becomes the centre point of the whole stage and boy does she own it. 

Straight after, the woozy synths of title track ‘All Mirrors’ kick in and then the excitement really builds and the audience are encapsulated with Angel’s powerful vocals “Standing, facing, all mirrors are erasing” she bellows. 

The next 30 minutes are dominated by tracks from All Mirrors, Spring, Impasse, Lark, Summer, Tonight, seamlessly gliding through each synth and string layered track transforming the sound from the album into a sonically rich and epic sounding landscape that fills every corner of the venue. The highest point being ‘Lark’ as the band reach an epic high on the chorus with Olsen passionately crying out to the audience ‘What about my dreams? What about the heart?’. Ending with a quip that they enjoyed playing that one so much that maybe they should play it again later on. I’m sure there wouldn’t have been anyone in the audience that wouldn’t have enjoyed that if they had. 

‘You’ve probably never heard of this one’ she says as she introduces the next few songs, which are deeper cuts if you are a newer fan. ‘Acrobat’ from her 2012 album ‘Half Way Home’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’, a single back in 2013, kick up the mood from sombre to elated as Olsen dons her guitar and embraces her heavier indie rock roots. The head bangs and jumping bodies start to emerge in various corners of the audience. 

“Whats your profession? What do you do for a living?” Asks Angel in response to a fan’s shout of “Marry Me Angel!”. Her on stage presence and humour is unmatched and she knows that she has control over the room. Live At The Apollo is of course broadcast from this very building, perhaps next season will see not just comedians but a musician make an appearance. 

She teases that they’ll be playing some new music, although most of the music tonight could be considered new. “I wrote this one in the hotel before the show tonight, only one other person has heard it!” She then asks her band to quickly improvise the backing part naming the chords given. 

The anticipation builds as fans are quickly intrigued into what might be coming. The pay off is not what people were expecting, however something much better. “I ain’t hanging up this time. I ain’t giving up tonight” chimes Olsen as she plays the opening to fan favourite ‘Shut Up, Kiss Me’ which is met to a huge cheer and followed by many flailing limbs as this indie rock classic lights up the room.

The last leg of the set Is a mix of old favourites and new cuts and the end of the set brings us to the subdued but powerful ‘Unfucktheworld’ as Olsen serenade’s us to the end of our nights. “It’s way past your bedtime” she remarks just before she walks off to thunderous applause and admiration from a near 4000 strong crowd. 

The shows not quite over as the chants of “One more song” bring the band back out for, as requested, one more song. The sombre and powerful ‘Chance’ closes out the evening on a sadder note, but the audience are truly captivated by the show they’ve seen it seems like the perfect note to go out on. The spotlight shines over Angel Olsen one last time and the metaphorical curtain closes on what has been a career defining performance.

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