Night one of a three-date Irish tour for one of the most acclaimed singer songwriters operating today sees Angel Olsen take to the Vicar Street stage before a large, if not quite sold-out crowd.
Tonight’s support is Tim Darcy, better known as singer and guitarist in Ought, but here in his solo guise, following on from the release of debut LP Saturday Night earlier this year. Whereas the LP is generally powered by a full band set up, here Darcy performs backed only by an electric guitar – though without doubt able to evoke atmosphere from such a minimal set up. When he introduces a ‘friend joining me for one tune’ it turns out to be a drum machine, good for a cheap laugh as he readily acknowledges. The set itself is a mix of cuts from Saturday Night, including standouts such as Still Waking Up, plus a smattering of new songs, that show Darcy as incisive as ever – here’s hoping for a return visit soon.
Angel Olsen and five-piece band take the stage and ease into the evening with a rendition of ‘Heart Shaped Face’ before bursting into a relentlessly impactful set, drawing from across Olsen’s impeccable back catalogue. Rattling through the likes of ‘Hi-5’ from Burn Your Fire For No Witness and ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ from recent third LP My Woman, one can only admire the tightness of the unit, six musicians locked together, and most notable of all is the force of connection between the voice of Olsen and the stellar background vocalist.
Tonight’s is a minimal stage set up, simply a tinsel backdrop, but when twinned with the magnetic presence of Olsen, the matching suits (including pencil ties) and astounding musicianship of the backing band, and a respectful, appreciative audience, there’s a warm atmosphere in Vicar Street on this early summer’s night.
Olsen is a wry presence throughout, whether she’s punching water bottles off her amp; “Now I forgot what I was gonna sing” or moving to cut the tension after a particularly weighty performance; “Now that we got that outta the way…” after a jaw-dropping ‘Not Gonna Kill You’. The likes of the swampy, groovy ‘Sister’ and ‘Woman’ are further statement moments, the quality of the songs meshing gloriously with that of the performance. Without question a collective operating at the peak of their powers, we are treated to not one, but two encores. The more pertinent by the hour ‘Unfucktheworld’ is stunning, ‘Never Be Mine’ a swooning delight. A truly great performance from an utterly magnetic presence.
Angel Olsen photographed for State by Killian Broderick