ANGEL OLSEN @ Badlands Bar


with Jack Ladder
Badlands Bar
Thursday, December 8, 2016

Angel Olsen already had a solo career before she first appeared in Perth as part of Bonnie Prince Billy’s band where she played the role of harmony singer. Her talent was obvious then, but it is her My Woman album form earlier this year that has turned her into one of the current buzz artists.

Jack Ladder is a stage name taken by Tim Rogers (not that one) who tonight was playing without the backing of his band The Dreamcatchers. In solo mode, Jack Ladder is a commanding figure. His lanky build, shoulder length hair and sunglasses have him looking all Dave McComb, whilst his baritone voice is more akin to Nick Cave. The early part of the set saw Jack Ladder focusing on his weighty songs like Come On Back This Way before he warmed up and the banter began. His finer work was when asking if Badlands Bar is ‘named after the Springsteen song, or the film, or just because it’s in a shit part of town’. Dumb Love was his most pop like number before taking requests such as the word perfect ache of Hurtsville. Jack Ladder is underrated in these parts, hopefully he will be back with his band sooner rather than later.

The main event ventured on stage with the backing band wearing stylish matching suits before Angel Olsen entered with more modest attire. Despite the class gap in clothing, from the second Olsen opened her mount, there was no mistaking who was the focal point on stage. While she has been billed as a folk or a country act, there is very little in the live show that would attest to this. Opener Never Be Mine was on point with all the sway of a sixties ‘girl group’.

The cherub like Olsen sporting some blunt bangs launched into a fierce version of Shut Up Kiss Me, which displayed why it has been one of the tunes on heavy rotation since its release this year. Even this early in the piece it was evident that the band had grown in repute since their Laneway Festival performance of a few years back, with more light and shade being on offer. Heart Shaped Face slowed the pace with its metronomic drums and ethereal harmonies that sat tidily behind a Steve Nicks like quaver in Olsen’s formidable voice.

Olsen shared her experiences of Perth with the crowd, being sure to make sardonic mention of the ‘smashed avocado toast‘ that she had for breakfast. Delving way back into her catalogue was Miranda from her 2012 album Half Way Home. Olsen’s voice took on a country lilt for the first time of the evening and with the band adding flavours to the tune, it was as rewarding as the original arrangement albeit lacking in a little of the ache. The swampy Sweet Dreams was a welcome addition before a high octane Forgiven/Forgotten and Give it Up saw Olsen leave the stage while the band continued to play the final strains of the set.

The guitar was placed aside when Olsen returned for the encore with a keyboard being the new instrument of choice. The earthy Intern was the result with Olsen’s vocal drenched with reverb to great effect. Pseudo title track Woman was a plodding and unnecessary end to an otherwise neat performance. Angel Olsen manages to tick all of the boxes for a great show without quite delivering that knock out blow.


Pics by Alfred Gorman