Angel Olsen hits the Big Time in Brixton

The queen of alt-country dream pop reigns supreme over her grandest UK show to date

“It seems like people are angry,” grins Angel Olsen, addressing a sea of murmurs at the O2 Academy in Brixton. “I’m angry too… I wish everyone would shut the f*ck up!” Instantly turning the dig into a joke, the crowd briefly settle down for a show that almost feels too big for people to keep quiet. 

Now playing intimate confessional country with a six-piece (colour coordinated) band, Olsen finds herself caught between the dive bar and the stadium – the smallest songs off Big Time sounding huge, the biggest off All Mirrors almost bringing the house down. Stood in front of the same mountain landscape that fills her new record, Olsen arrives back in London with the confidence of a killer new album – letting Big Time lead her mood, as well as her setlist. 

And it works. As heartbreaking as the soft storytelling is on songs like ‘Dream Thing’, ‘Ghost On’ and ‘Right Now’, their biggest swells meet seamlessly with the grand orchestral sweep of ‘All Mirrors’ and ‘Lark’. Olsen might be moving backwards through the different phases of her career, but the setlist here shows just how well every chapter sits next to each other when they’re played with feeling.

There’s a brief dip back to 2016 for ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ and ‘Give It Up’ (the first teased with the same joke about writing a new song on a London bench that she used the last time she was in town), but the set closes big and teary on ‘This Is How It Works’ and ‘All The Good Times’, as well as a solo acoustic cover of Tucker Zimmerman’s ‘Slowin’ Down Love’. 

“Saying that you’re sad and everyone hates you is only cute for so long”, Olsen laughs, introducing Zimmerman’s song about the perseverance of love and hope with an optimism that shines through everything she does on stage now. Coming back for a sing-a-long encore of Harry Nilsson’s ‘Can’t Live’ (with support act Tomberline joining her at the mic), Olsen finds yet another cover that seems tailor made for her supernatural voice. 

What better way to end than with a sad song that feels like a power ballad? A song about heartbreak that practically needs to be screamed by everyone in the room. 

Angel Olsen - Big Time (Official Video)

Angel Olsen is playing Dublin on October 24. Find tickets here.