On the first show of a sold-out, two-night stand in Toronto, singer-songwriter Angel Olsen dazzled the audience with a performance propelled by her stunning voice and graceful, vivid arrangements.
Dressed in a silver catsuit, Olsen carried an air of confidence and classic coolness as she began with the grunge-country of "Hi-Five" from her breakout album Burn Your Fire For No Witness, followed by a double dose of rock'n'roll swagger with "Shut Up Kiss Me" and "Give It Up," from last year's My Woman. Olsen is far from pompous performer, though; she was humbled by some of the more passionate fans at the front, offering up big smiles and loosening up alongside her five-piece band, who were all wearing slick grey suits and bolo ties.
The set was largely made up of material from My Woman played in something resembling the same order as the album, with a couple of older songs sprinkled in between. So, like the record, the show's second half featured more of the sombre and vulnerable songs, tenderly slowing things down. On "Heart Shaped Face," Olsen's delicate drawl was on display, and she alternately wailed and whispered, "Heartache ends and begins again." The band were remarkably tight and crisp but remained subdued, ensuring Olsen's poignant voice had the space to reverberate throughout the room.
The expansive "Sister" was breathtaking, showcasing Olsen's best elements as a musician; its waltzing, wishful first half transitioned to a sprawling finale with undulating guitars and Olsen repeating with a sigh, "All my life I thought I'd change." Here, there were plenty of moments where Olsen's timeless voice was able to linger over sparkling guitar notes, hypnotizing the crowd into absorbing her lonesome words about yearning and heartache.
Later, Olsen was left solo onstage to play the sparse, lullaby-like "Sans" from her newly released B-sides and demos compilation Phases, which fit perfectly alongside her more well-known songs — proving the strength of Olsen's non-album material throughout her young career. The first few dusty chords of "Unfucktheworld" garnered a huge cheer from the crowd before the band came back for the jaunty "Fly On Your Wall" and a faithful cover of the Velvet Underground's "I Found a Reason." For the encore, Olsen donned a silver wig, finishing the show in a cheerful fashion by swaying along to the peppy "The Waiting," from her first album Half Way Home.
After a handful of full-length albums with increasing fanfare and critical acclaim, Angel Olsen has grown into one of indie folk's most cherished songwriters. Wednesday night's (December 6) show was a victory lap for Olsen's recent boost in popularity and a reaffirmation of her talent, leaving her fans eagerly waiting for new music from the revered singer.