Neko Case/Angel Olsen/Lucy Wainwright Roche – The Forum (12 December 2013)

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Lucy Wainwright Roche is yet another of Loudon‘s offspring (seems there’s another three yet to bother us). And, she’s gone into the family business: Troubadouricising. She delivers light folky songs in a slightly reedy voice. Which is all pleasant enough. But, like that guy at the open mic night doing FFPT*. Or, the busker on the corner. She has a really good line in banter with the audience. She’s entertaining and charming enough. But, she’s still just a chick with a guitar.

Angel Olsen is just a chick with a guitar. Yeah. But in a whole lot of different. Swamped by a vintage Danelctro, on the front pick-ups, through a beaten up old Vox box with no treble, strummed and riffed upon in a low surfy way. Over which she coos and trills from sultry come hither to transcendent operatics. I’m put in mind of Bjork or, contemporaneously, St Vincent. But, just in the way that it’s strange, other-worldy and unique (does a comparison work for uniqueness?). She’s quite unsettling. And, I’m not sure I like it. But, I am completely mesmerised by her. I don’t have the cash to buy her album, but I want to. I will do. First thing I do when I get home is look her up on Youtube and find out what she sounds like with a ‘full band’. Oh, I am intrigued.

Speaking of intrigue: Neko Case. Maybe not that, but certainly something intangible. Were I to try and describe what Neko Case is like, with the usual reference to genre and history. One would be inclined to ask; “so, she’s like…” No. “Or…” No. No and again, not at all. Of course there’s the obvious strain of twisted lyrics about losing love to oil-based drowning incidents. Moreso, there’s THAT voice. Hewn from something primal, it could stop a rampaging grizzly in its tracks. All of which tells you bupkis. Nada. Which is kind of my point. I cannot pin down that thing that makes this music touch me so. There is something I just can’t manage to focus on. But, that makes it sound blurry which it is not. Sharp, precision tooled. Yet, intangible.

But, enough of my waffle, and onto the live offering. Despite numerous backing bands/collaborators, every time I’ve seen Case she’s been joined by Jon Rauhouse and cohorts. (The were once billed as the JR Trio and played a support set. Thankfully that nonsense has gone by the wayside.) Who provide all the steel and guitars virtuosity you want. Also along for the ride is the goddess Kelly Hogan. Another of those voices. not only do her backing vocals work perfectly with Case. But, she basically spends most of the time between songs hurling abuse in here direction. Oh, it comes back her way too. As a duo they are pretty much the walking talking definition so sass.

Tonight they are all on top form. They rock when they have to, and bowl you over when needed. I’m – shamefully – not familair enoguh with more recent material to recognise everything. But, that doesn’t matter. It’s marvelous. As all gigs should be.

And, I’m still sure she keeps her plectrums in her bra. What’s not to love? Really, must remember to pick the new album.

* Fake Fecken Plastic Trees


Written by Tony Kiernan

13 December 2013 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Gigs, London, Music

One Response

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  1. […] had been intrigued by Angel Olsen when I caught her as support for Neko Case. She released the album Burn Your Fire For No Witness […]

    2014 |

    01 January 2015 at 12:35 am

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