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Live Review: Angel Olsen, Jack Ladder

12 December 2016 | 12:45 pm | Sean Mullarkey

"The tempo through the night's concert seems to smoothly ebb and flow between uplifting and downward spiralling numbers..."

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"Do you guys grow a lot of avocados here? You seem to put them on everything!" remarked the 29-year-old Missouri local singer-songwriter Angel Olsen who played at the Governor Hindmarsh to a crowd eager to enjoy her melancholic indie folk-rock.

Supporting was Jack Ladder, a Sydney-based indie-rocker and solo guitarist cast in the mould of Nick Cave crossed with World Party's Karl Wallinger. Ladder "entertained" the early crowd with his dark humour, blase stage presence and deep baritone voice. Seaming to bait the early Gov crowd with his edgy ballads and the sometimes awkward time taken between songs to tune his white Fender guitar, Ladder played a 40-minute set covering songs off 2012's Hurtsville and 2014's Playmates.

Despite his strange, antagonistic humour ("Last time I was in Adelaide, 2006 I guess, my hire car was keyed. [I] haven't been back since, has anything changed?") and nonchalant engagement with the somewhat wary crowd, Ladder played a strong, minimalist set. Though at times the banter seemed a little skewed and jarring, in his own way Ladder commanded attention with his one-man "What night is this?" stage show. Ladder's overall soundscape, together with a Billy Bragg style — edgy, raw guitar — has a captivating element that can't be readily dismissed.

After a quick interval, headlining act Angel Olsen and her five-piece band — in matching white shirts, blue "Potsie Weber" suites and country shoestring neckties - entered onto the stage. The deep, melodic groove of Olsen's songs and her velvety Lana Del Ray-esque warbling captivated the crowd as they, in some cases literally, sat back to take in the melancholic soundscape drifting out across the speakers towards them.

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As tight and laidback as the music itself, Olsen's band — consisting of drums, bass, synth, lead and rhythm guitarist — all gelled with ease behind her. The often heavy overdrive of the guitars — spiralling lead entwined with blues-like bass — and wash of synths left Olsen to command the stage with her rhythm guitar and beautiful, sultry voice.

Leading with Never Be Mine, Hi-Five and Shut Up Kiss Me, Olsen had the crowd immediately entranced. The tempo through the night's concert smoothly ebbed and flowed between uplifting and downward spiralling numbers as Olsen and her band played through their tracks — the likes of Lights Out, the epic mantra-like Sister, crowd favourite Not Gonna Kill You and the soulful mourning Chris Isaak-esque Sweet Dreams leaving the crowd wanting and cheering for more.

Concluding with the help of rumbling thunder and nature's electric light show outside, scorned lover's lament Give It Up got the room on its feet and applauding. Olsen thanked the audience as she and her band left the stage for a brief break. They returned quickly for the final encore, closing the night with the slow-burning, sprawling epic of Woman and a dark and atmospheric take on album opener Intern.