Manchester’s concert terror did not reduce attendance at Angel Olsen’s largest London show. A thorough bag search and extra body scan were mild inconveniences and there was no obvious dampening of the mood.
It wasn’t quite business as usual, however. “Unfucktheworld” read the suddenly vital T-shirts on the merchandise stand, after one of her songs. The line: “I want to live life/I want to die right,” stood out more than usual in the middle of Sister. “You know, it’s a pleasure to be here, despite the way the world is right now,” said the St Louis singer-songwriter.
In any case, her music was never meant for a party. Dark and smouldering, and on her latest album, My Woman, epic and ambitious, it was easy to be swept away by these grand, powerful songs. Olsen’s voice was an event on its own – a high whisper on Those Were The Days, capable of towering over the six-piece band’s three electric guitars on Not Gonna Kill You.
The indie roots of the ragged, raw Shut Up Kiss Me were overpowered by genuine showmanship – from Olsen’s delayed entrance in a green dress next to her grey-suited bandmates, to her crowd-silencing solo rendition of long early song Lonely Universe. In subdued circumstances, she was marvellously watchable.