Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen


Angel Olsen is pissed off with Manchester tonight, despite the sweatshop that is Gorilla being packed to the rafters with people from far and wide; some of whom had got the bus and were willing to risk missing the last one in order to see an artist they obviously admire (you’ll hear more on this later).

Despite, Angel’s distinctive yodelling voice perfectly falling and rising in sync on opening songs “Drunk and with Dreams” and “Free”, songs now more associated now with her quieter musical past, following her transformation to a new louder sound at the base of her new record ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’, it soon becomes clear that something is not quite right – unless rudeness is an ironic characteristic of Angel’s character, something which on going off past positive reviews I am going to discount.

This is because Angel marks the end of every song by twisting on her heels, as if she has just got the final word in an argument, and now intends to walk off and slam the door before anything else can be said. In reality, Angel does this in order to have a casual chat with her bandmates for a period of time that seemed to go on for so long that it would not of been out of order for a member of the crowd to walk on stage and tap her on the back, before speaking for us all in saying ‘Hi, we are here you know.’

Once would have been fine and, we all know the pitfalls of mistaking someone’s awkward, self-conscious behaviour for rudeness, but this happened after every single song. However, if there were any lingering doubts as to Angel’s rudeness amongst the audience, she soon got rid of that.

This brings me back to the bus incident I mentioned earlier. Yes, the fact that a member of the audience got on a bus and had to get the last one back is hardly the biggest show of admiration a fan has shown for an artist in recent years, but it was a circumstance which Angel clearly showed no attention to when she turned round for a lengthy chat after every song. However, in pure Mancunian style (a condition commonly known as whereby one says what every single member of the audience is thinking to the offender) this heroic man who had to get his bus did not hold back in making clear his frustration. The conversation follows.

Man: ‘Can you play ‘Unfucktheworld” love, I’ve got a bus to catch’

Angel: ‘Why don’t you just fucking get the bus then?”

While his comment clearly hinted at her rather long pauses, in an admirably polite way I have to say, Angel’s response made it clear that she was only performing tonight because she had to, not because audience members had paid and packed out a hall for her, not because members of the audience, such as this man, actually had a life to get back to and could therefore not accommodate her selfish need for a ridiculously long pause – which as with any paid performance is not the norm, imagine if the football team you support started having a number of pleasant chats among themselves in the middle of a game – there would be a riot.

Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen

However that was not all; things soon got so heated that Angel managed to do her only impressive feat in making the temperature of an already burning furnace of a room rise even further. This happened when Angel bemoaned the fact that the profession she chose to do requires that she has to travel to venues in other cities to make money, I know the horror:

Angel: ‘Well guess what, I have to go to Newcastle tomorrow for a gig in a fucking bus. And it’s not even a bus, it’s a fucking car!’

Angel: ‘Then guess what? I have to get in the fucking car again and go to a fucking gig at the next place.’

In response to this one can only think, ‘well Angel we all got in a fucking car or a fucking bus, whichever you like, and paid our money to be here because we genuinely like the music; something, in regards to this man, you clearly seem to pay no attention to.’

 To the delight of the audience who were now really beginning to feel unconformatable, it soon seemed that a compromise was going to be reached when Angel said, ‘Well here’s ‘Unfucktheworld’ anyway’, only for her to not play the actual song. Instead, Olsen played ‘Sweet Dreams’ which, although was clearly pent with anger in a tantalising way, made barely an imprint with the singer having recently alienated just about every member of the audience. This decision along with her constant lengthy conversations with her band and her treating the performance like a soundcheck and showed that Angel had no intention of pleasing the audience tonight.

Admittedly I have not paid much attention to the performance tonight, despite her drawing songs like “Stars”, “Hi-Five”, and “Forgiven/Forgotten” from her impressive most recent record “Burn Your Fire For No Witness.” Although the quality of these songs cannot be disagreed with, the performance, in general felt Angel was simply just keeping up standards. Terms such as ‘consistent’ and ‘never put a foot wrong’ could describe her performance, but these are terms normally associated with sportsmen who literally have to go out and do a job i.e. ‘win a game’, musicianship, although arguably wrong, requires more than that.

Despite, Angel throwing up an obligatory one surpise for the audience in the form of a charming cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’, the whole night simply petered out. The whole attitude of the night was summed up when despite Angel’s set barely stretching out she failed to come for an encore disregarding those somehow still enthusiastic fans that waited behind in expectation.

I cannot conclude tonight without stating no matter how much of a big fan you are, and personally I love ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’, tonight could be considered as nothing more than an absolute failure. I do not make a habit of criticising performances as at the end of the day whatever they are going to serve up it is always going to be better than what we could do ourselves, but as a member of that audience who paid for a ticket and travelled far yet seemed to make as little of imprint on the performer as she did on us I feel it is only right to do so. Tonight was shit and unlike Angel on her drive to Birmingham, I was extremely happy to be on the bus home at the end of it. Rant over.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.