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The Big Takeover Issue #93
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Angel Olsen -Thalia Hall (Chicago) - December 1st, 2023

2 December 2023

Angel Olsen is a treasure! Equal parts power and grace, she took the stage at Thalia Hall effortlessly to headline the first of two sold out nights at the venue. Olsen quickly began thrilling the audience with her ravishing songs but also making fans laugh with her jokes about taco bars, bad knees, teleprompters, green bandanas and Argo Tea. Even though she now lives in North Carolina, she can always come back to visit and be Chicago’s darling!

Olsen has refined and developed her sound and style over the years with a wholesome folk feeling that can really pull a punch when it comes to getting your heart to start pumping faster. In fact, her four piece accompaniment of Nona Invie on keyboards, Emily Elhaj on bass, Stewart Bronaugh on guitar, and also a drum accompaniment by Sam Kauffman-Skloff filled in a greater richness and added some pronounced rock rhythms that elevated the songs even further as in the case of Right Now , Sweet Dreams and Shut Up Kiss Me. Yet, it was Olsen’s presence with her versatile vocals and flawless guitar playing that maintained the most striking presence through the night.  Olsen also treated the audience to her keyboard playing on a couple of songs like Spring, Endgame and Woman

Olsen had such a sense of genuineness throughout her 100 minute long set and enjoyed talking about her time living in Chicago and interacting a bit with the crowd. Her banter was casual and spontaneous with an endearing quality.  She also revealed (after a fan inquired about her ring) that she’s engaged to Maxim Ludwig a guitarist she previously played with on the Wild Hearts Tour who joined the band for a few songs farther along into the set. It was nice to hear Olsen say how supported she felt by the audience after she divulged this even if she declined to tell us her entire life story. (This reviewer is pretty sure the audience would have stayed to hear it!) When she belted out the lyrics “I wanna go home. Go back to small things. I don’t belong here. Nobody knows me in” in the song Go Home we all wanted to reassure her that this wasn’t true at all and she should stay with us forever.

Despite the stronger presence of guitar rifts and drumming to engage so many of her tracks, there were still moments of delicateness and hints of old country twang in Ghost On  and This is How it Works and Sister was especially moving and heartfelt even though it wasn’t nearly as long as she joked it was.  (It was still quite epic!)  Additionally, Olsen played a solo set towards the end of the night where she took audience requests like Sans, and Some Things Cosmic, before her band joined her again for an encore “Woman.”

Basic setlist not including some audience requests: