Linnea Olsson: Manchester – Live Review

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Linnea Olsson
Salford Trinity Church, Manchester
March 8th, 2013

Self proclaimed “Fantasty Cello Pop” artist Linnea Olsson played at a Manchester church recently, and one of the attendees in the packed venue was our own Alana Turk.

This being my first ever church gig, I have to say I am impressed. Sacred Trinity is very atmospheric – grand yet also quite subtle with the dim, colourful lighting. At first, it seemed a little odd to be ordering a glass of wine from what can only be described as something resembling a school tuck shop in the foyer of a beautiful church. However, I begin to feel more at ease when a young lady sits on the end of my pew and starts sipping at a can of Strongbow.

By the time Linnea Olsson takes to the performance space, the venue is absolutely packed. Pews are filled, people crammed next to each other on cushions all over the floor and latecomers stand at the back. Olsson opens up her set in the same way she does her album, with instrumental track, ‘The Ocean’. She creates loops perfectly synchronized during the intro. Although it may already be slightly obvious from the title, some of the sounds created during this song are definite telltale signs of the influence the sea has on Olsson’s writing. Closing my eyes briefly, I am there on a beach, listening to the waves crashing down, the seagulls squawking overhead and the distant murmurs of wales and dolphins beneath the surface.

 

Her stunning vocal range becomes apparent during second song of the evening, ‘Ah!’, the title track from Olsson’s debut album. The sound of her delicate, yet strong and sturdy, voice completely fills the church, the acoustics of which only emphasize her singing abilities.

Victorious vocals are also presented during the first cover of the evening, ‘Unfinished Symphony’ by Massive Attack. A beautifully haunting rendition, Olsson really manages to make the track her own. ‘All For You’ prompts curiosity in my mind as to just how many layers are created for this track alone. I try and count them; a form of percussion, strings, vocals, beats, another melody…and once again I get completely lost in it all. I’m impressed by not only Olsson’s skill at playing the cello, but at how she manages to maintain control of so many loops whilst remembering to set the next one up and sing perfectly at the same time. Second cover of the night takes the form of ‘Sex Object’ by Kraftwerk, providing another unique and captivating take on an unoriginal track.

 

The most powerful and heartrending performance of the night was found in ‘I Am Younger’, a new song of Olsson’s. Based around the theme of family and love, she admits to the audience, “When I rehearsed it I started crying, because I was so moved by my own material,” and it is plain to see why. The lyrics alone are enough to tug at a few heartstrings. Add to that the simplicity of the backing music – which is just Olsson’s own distorted vocals and a few “oooo’s” on a loop – and you end up with a truly epic display focusing on meaningful lyrics and exceptional vocals.

The more upbeat and well-known track ‘Dinosaur’ begins to round off Olsson’s set. Pitch perfect in every way, her songs are so well performed they sound just like the recordings, only with more of a wow factor. There is something about watching this woman play that is truly special and captivating. Rather than leaving the performance space to reappear for her encore, Olsson states, “I want to play more, so I won’t leave – I’ll just do it right away!”. Third cover and final song of the night appears as Bjork’s ‘Unravel’. Wonderfully executed, it is evident that Olsson really feels the music and portrays these emotions through the expressions on her face. With a gracious bow and applause to the audience, Olsson leaves the performance space and the magic is broken.

You can find out more on Linnea Olsson on her official website, Facebook and twitter.

Words by Alana Turk. More writing by Alana on Louder Than War can be found here.

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