- Live Review
- 25 Oct 22
US alternative country singer Angel Olsen lit up the Dublin venue last night, enveloping the audience in her warm, sultry voice.
"How are you fuckers doing?" Angel Olsen greets the crowd at Vicar Street on Monday night, grinning from ear-to-ear as she dawns her black electric guitar while the crowd cheers in response.
The Missouri native proved her exceptional singing and songwriting skills as she works through numerous emotions and jarring life events in her sixth album, Big Time. Between grieving the loss of both her parents, coming to terms with her queer identity, reminiscing the everlasting pain of heartbreak and clinging onto the hope that the future holds, Olsen does an extraordinary job conveying her own journey and emotions into heart-stopping music while simultaneously creating pieces that listeners can relate to in their own personal ways.
Olsen is no short of a writing and singing powerhouse, and she proved in her Vicar Street performance that her music is that much more compelling in person.
The venue was brought to life with a short opening set from Tomberlin, who has been supporting Olsen through her Europe and UK tour. The 27-year-old contemporary folk artist instantly hushed the crowd with her hauntingly beautiful vocals, starting off with slow and sweet ballads comparable to the work of Julien Baker or Lucy Dacus.
Although she stood on stage accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, her musical presence gripped the room. The Kentucky-based singer played a number of songs from her newest album i don't know who needs to hear this... which found its release earlier this year in April. Towards the end of her set, she brought on Olsen's band to play the last two songs with her, adding layers of sound and colour to her buttery smooth vocals.
Tomberlin surprised the crowd at the concluding part of her performance with a significantly upbeat song, causing the audience to cheer and sway to the beat. The burst of energy set a perfect level of excitement for Olsen to step out onto stage, smiling and waving as if she was greeting an old friend.
Olsen focused the majority of her set on her newest project, opening the night with 'Dream Thing'. The combination of guitars, drums and strings on stage with Olsen's captivating sound instantly hypnotised the crowd; all eyes were on her. After her grand introduction, Olsen expressed her delight at returning to Dublin.
"It's been a long time since we've been here!" she laughed. "I've been trying to get back ever since I left."
The indie artist followed with 'Big Time', 'Ghost On' and 'Right Now' from her newest project before introducing a song Olsen claimed "she just wrote." Although she admitted to the crowd that it would be their first time ever playing this "new song", it seemed as if everyone was in on the joke, sending ripples of laughter throughout the pit.
Olsen then played the opening chords of 'Shut Up and Kiss Me' from her 2016 album MY WOMAN, which has wracked up over 50 million streams on Spotify. The crowd instantly went wild, screaming the catchy chorus at the top of their lungs with hands waving in the air.
Alongside Olsen's dynamic vocals, the full band featured both a violin and cello which brought a special level of depth to her music. While adding to many layers of sound, the inclusion of strings highlighted the unique alternative-country flare that comes through in Olsen's music.
Olsen's personality shined through on stage, from dancing with her bandmates during each song to addressing the crowd casually as if she was having a fully fledged conversation with the thousands of people that filled up the venue. "So what have you guys been up to the last couple years?" she joked, listening to multiple people yelling answers at her from the pit and chuckling.
The American singer tapped into a slower, somber tone with 'All Mirrors and Lark' from her 2019 project All Mirrors before bouncing back to more songs on 'Big Time'. Although her sixth album only came out around four months ago, the audience was more than familiar with the lyrics. The crowd swung back and forth, entranced by each song.
Olsen closes the show with what could only be described as a cliffhanger, excusing her band off stage to sing a solo with only her voice and guitar as she performed a cover of 'Slowin' Down Love' by folk artist Tucker Zimmerman. Not even two minutes later, the entire band reassembled on stage along with Tomberlin for an encore via a grandiose cover of Harry Nilsson's 'Without You'.
Although the entire band is giving their all in the cheerful singalong, beneath the excitement on stage is the same dark sense of loss and grief that tapes itself to the Nilsson's lyrics. It almost perfectly incapsulates Olsen's music and message: grief is made up of a plethora of stages and emotions, as is the motion of life that we must all bear through.
See photos from the show here.
Listen to Big Time below.