Gig review: Angel Olsen (Mono)

Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen

“If you’ve got a sense of humour, you’re not so bad”, purrs Angel Olsen in ‘Lights Out’ - a few songs into a hypnotic set at Glasgow’s Mono.

It’s a sense of humour that separates the alt-country starlet (and former Bonnie “Prince” Billie muse) from many of her contemporaries.

She needs it in a venue which is just a few degrees cooler than the surface of the sun - a sold out crowd packed in to see a performer who, at first, looks the very definition of unprepossessing.

But touring relentlessly for four months has seemingly done no damage, as she delivers a perfectly-paced 90 minute genre-splicing set; scattered with wise-cracking, blacker-than-black asides. “Anyone here ever committed a crime?”, she drawls.

Sometimes solo, often accompanied by an accomplished three-piece band, she skates from punk to indie pop - all with a country twang and a consistency of voice provided by her tricksy lyricism.

A combination of straining to catch every perfect couplet and sheer entrancement at the unique voice on show silences the crowd entirely between generous ovations.

The intensity of the near-whispered ‘White Fire’ - a seven-minute epic of loss and regret - charges the atmosphere to an almost unbearable level, before a final cathartic slice of upbeat country delivers a much-needed release of pent up tension.

Then she leaves the stage, exits the venue, and vanishes into the night - finally breaking the powerful Midwestern spell so effectively cast.