Angel Olsen + Vagabon @ MTELUS – 18 November 2019

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Angel Olsen and Vagabon at Mtelus in Montreal, Canada
Angel Olsen in Montreal

St-Louis-based singer-songwriter Angel Olsen and her band performed at Montreal’s MTELUS this past Tuesday in support of her latest missive All Mirrors. She was supported by NYC-based artist Vagabon.

VAGABON

Angel Olsen and Vagabon at Mtelus in Montreal, Canada
Vagabon at MTelus

Laetitia Tamko, who goes by the stage name Vagabon, is an arresting performer. At times plaintive and vulnerable, occasionally fierce and defiant, her every vocal modulation reflected in her physical composure. Her songs bend genre in fascinating, exciting ways, veering from r&b inflected indie-rock, to electronic- tinged art pop.

Angel Olsen and Vagabon at Mtelus in Montreal, Canada

In a live setting, she shone brightest when performing the scrappier, punk-influenced songs from her debut Infinite Worlds, such as “The Embers” and the ferocious “Minneapolis.” The more refined and restrained songwriting showcased on this year’s Vagabon lacked the live immediacy of this older material, but it was still a pleasure to hear.

ANGEL OLSEN

Angel Olsen and Vagabon at Mtelus in Montreal, Canada

Over the course of four full-length albums, Angel Olsen has incrementally widened the horizons of the musical world her songs inhabit. Even when she was accompanied by nothing but an acoustic guitar on her debut Half Way Home, the shape and character of Olsen’s voice gave her compositions an undeniable immensity.

Angel Olsen and Vagabon at Mtelus in Montreal, Canada

Performing primarily new songs from All Mirrors, Olsen and her band delivered a lavish, wonderfully orchestrated and arranged set brimming with exciting musical ideas that matched her towering vocal performance.

Angel Olsen and Vagabon at Mtelus in Montreal, Canada

Early in the set during “Impasse,” I was rattled by the sheer heavy noise that Olsen and her band were capable of conjuring. Dramatic string swoops courtesy of a violinist and cellist, massive static-y synth drones and scorched earth fuzz guitars crashed into Olsen’s voice like waves breaking against basalt sea cliffs. Later, on “Summer,” I couldn’t shake the image of the sprawl of windswept mesas right out of a Leone western. Olsen’s dry, slashing acoustic guitar, corralled by a martial snare roll and those buzzing strings. “Took a while but I made it through, if I could show you the hell I’ve been to,” intoned the singer during the chorus, her golden voice taking on stunning Dolly-Parton-esque quality.

Angel Olsen and Vagabon at Mtelus in Montreal, Canada

One of the best sounding and most memorable shows I’ve seen in a minute, Angel Olsen is a performer at the peak of her craft.

Angel Olsen and Vagabon at Mtelus in Montreal, Canada

Review & photos – Jean-Michel Lacombe

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