The best gig of 2016 by song list rat

angelolsensmallThere is a lame joke that goes: An angel walked into a bar…seven drinks and a bout of indecent debauchery later a devil walked out. Lame that is until tonight when Angel Olsen is playing her first headlining show in Perth at the ex-Devilles Pad aka Bad-Lands Bar. The former satanic club with central dance floor volcano has transformed into a satanic club without dance floor volcano. Clearly no stalactites were damaged in the process and the caldera rim surrounding the dance floor has remained intact. So how would Angel Olsen alt country goddess adapt to such gothic surroundings? Right on cue the five members of her backing band run out on stage in matching blue/grey mariachi suits and bolo ties. is Angel taking the piss again and  going to appear wearing her silver Dolly Parton wig? Thankfully the real Angel arrives  looking like an  “Angel” wearing t shirt , heart shaped pocket jeans and draped in her black Gibson guitar. she immediately gets down to business undeterred by her surroundings. Early on she takes on two new songs from her recent album My Woman. At times she sounds like Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks or Emmylou Harris but Dolly Stevie and Emmylou never sounded like Angel. She has a unique vocal range that is a phenomena moving from a vibrating soprano that rattles the stalactites to a breathy whisper where the words are almost indecipherable from her breathing. Sometimes a lead guitar sounds like words. So it is with Angel’s voice that her breathing and tonal whispers become the words. The tone of her voice carries even more emotion than her words. This is all timed impeccably with the thrust of the band and the soaring backing vocals of Heather McIntire. The midpoint of the set reflects the midpoint of My Woman with Heart Shaped Face followed by Sister. It’s like being on the biggest steepest roller coaster at the Easter show. It is so exhilarating but as the speed of the drops increase you reach a point where you just can’t take anymore. And so it is with these two songs. They are just so intense at over seven  minutes each that you reach a point where you feel you just can’t take anymore emotion. But you don’t want her to stop. There is such a sense of loss in these songs that is way deeper than the loss of a relationship or even the loss death brings. It is the loss of self . Bonnie Prince Billy aka Will Oldham described the effect Olsen’s voice had on him as “it’s like I get hollowed out and then filled, but I don’t know what it’s with. It’s a mixture of a apprehension and satisfaction at the same time.” So much pain but also so much resilience and acceptance of human frailty. Thank God Angel found grunge as a young teenager hanging out at the Creepy Crawl punk club in St Louis. The band hit their straps with a wailing guitar assault that breaks the spell. You can take her at a number of levels. Mac DeMarco once  recalled his first impression of Angel’s voice as “holly crow she’s got the pipes”. sometimes when the lyrics get too much you just have to let  that voice wash over you. Angel then struts her new found Australian vernacular. She speaks of D&Ms had over smashed avo toasts for brekkie. She is definitely not too angel for this bat cave. Called back for an encore she starts with the sparse synth driven Intern which then morphs into Woman as the band seamlessly glide onto stage. Live over eight minutes Woman moans and wails and cries and breaths its devastating beauty. the band that have been barely restrained all night unleash  the beast for one final glorious aural assault that this time equals Olsen’s stentorian roar. Angel Olsen’s star is on a parabolic assent but it is hard to imagine anything better being achieved than tonight’s performance. Live tonight Olsen is a volcanic force with a performance that blows away her recorded material. easily the best performance of 2016. But with such talent to burn you sense there is no limit to Angel.

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