Having arrived early at the Belgrave Canteen for a slice of pizza and beer, I made my way upstairs to the venue along with a lot of others as there seemed to be a lot of unusual anticipation for a support act! This was really Julia Jacklin’s gig, but she has brought fellow Aussie – Olivia Jayne Bartley, or ‘Olympia’ as her stage name, for the ride, and to be honest that’s what’s dragged me out of the house tonight. This will be Olympia’s first trip across to the UK after just releasing a new single ‘Shoot to Forget’.
Her debut album ‘Self Talk’ is now 3 years old but having gained nominations for several gongs in Australia it is surprising that she hasn’t made a trip over sooner than now.
I’d describe her as a bit of Karen O, a dash of St Vincent, and some Anna Calvi thrown in for good measure – her presence is felt immediately with a coldish stare and silence as she starts a low key solo ‘Biscuits’ – halfway through her two piece backing band of drums and bass emerge and join her on stage to build more momentum. It’s quite clear that this lady could really be headlining the event herself and should really be selling out the larger venues down the road.
Her in-between song banter though is much warmer and regularly flashes of a beaming smile and a certain amount of curiosity as to why the crowd tonight is leaving a 6 ft gap between the eager front row and the masses behind. We’re Brits – you’ll get used to the stand-offishness, and we don’t whoop either, but we are listening and that’s a good sign. Her bass player seems to be a little off track though, as he forgot a couple of intro cues, but it didn’t really matter as Olympia was most definitely in charge and the material played tonight is a sign that this next album is going to be a belter. The aforementioned ‘Shoot to Forget’ was a thumping tune and no wonder she left it till later in the set.
There are definite multi-instrumental Prince type moves and shakes, as she rattled through some cool sounding solos before thrilling with ever soaring vocals. Her tight turtle-necked sweater looking like a poor choice as we start to heat up a little, although she was more concerned with a guy in a puffer jacket, after asking if he was too hot in it, he replied “I’m a cold hearted bastard” which made her laugh and quickly retorted with a “You and I would get along real well”.
Closing number ‘Star City’ was last year’s single, but that and ‘Shoot’ were clear winners in a very short set, but it was enough for me to want to see and hear more. Let’s hope it isn’t too long before we get a return visit.
SETLIST: Biscuits, Somewhere to Disappear, Smoke Signals, Atlantis, Nervous Riders, Shoot to Forget, Star City.