Gig review: Olympia at Belgrave Music Hall

It’s rare there’s a headliner with the confidence to give exposure to an artist of such quality that within minutes of their set it’s apparent that they should be headlining if not this venue, then a much larger one.

Thursday, 4th April 2019, 1:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 3:39 pm
Olympia, pictured at the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds, April 3.

Fortunately for the UK, Julia Jacklin is such an artist.

Accompanying Jacklin on her Crushing tour is singer Olympia, or Olivia Jayne Bartley as she was born in Melbourne, Australia, a multi-instrumentalist who came to prominence in her home country through debut album Self Talk.

With the follow up album on its way, Olympia displays a level of magnetism that attracts a crowd, who under alternate circumstances would frequently still be in a bar at this point, closer and closer to the stage.

Not all the way to the front, as the Australian highlighted, the archetypal English reserve affecting her OCD by leaving unnecessary spaces, but close enough that a sold-out Belgrave became rapt by the ever more engrossing set.

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The evening opens with Biscuits, delivered solo by Olympia and her guitar, the band subsequently joining her on stage to blast through a 45 minute set. If new single and stand out track Shoot to Forget is a barometer, the forthcoming release will kick matters on to another level.

There are overtures to Prince throughout, exquisite vocals, eminent guitar playing, all delivered robed in the most primary of colours. It feels at times like Olympia is straining at the leash in a venue of this size, quietly but deservedly screaming for the lighting or synths a headline show would dictate.

Bassist Tommy acts the errant child lost in the shopping centre, largely making up his own setlist up as he goes, but all dealt with through the same laid back humour his Commander in Chief adopts during numerous crowd exchanges, none more so than at the introduction to Somewhere to Disappear, the consensus in the room being when living under the sea, life would be better.

Sound doesn’t travel well underwater though - something to do with science - and so perhaps only certain aspects of life would be better. Certainly, this evening of superb music at the Belgrave was enhanced through Olympia succeeding where so many before her have failed and genuinely firing up a venue before the headliner.

Count down the days until she’s back, headlining, the only thing being supported her next release.