GIVEN Mark Olson’s long and distinguished career as a songwriter with both The Jayhawks and as a solo artist, a better turnout might have been expected for the York stop of his European tour.
But the small number who were in attendance were treated to a fantastic, intimate set from the Americana legend. Olson is touring in support of his latest album, Good-bye Liselle, a more worldly mix of tracks than his typical work.
The performance featured his Norwegian partner Ingunn Ringvold, who Olson joked had come to York from Norway to continue Viking pillaging. She joined the Minnesota songwriter in switching between an eclectic range of instruments during the evening, including a dulcimer and a qanun, a type of Armenian harp.
The set drew heavily from Olson’s latest release, meaning a different experience to his earlier alt-country work. Highlights included the night’s opening gambit Heaven’s Shelter and set closer All These Games. Cherry Thieves was perhaps the evening’s peak; the song did not feature the same range of instrumentation as much of the set but instead allowed Olson and Ringvold’s harmonising vocals to shine.
Both performers were relaxed and affable throughout and engaged the audience with friendly banter. “If something flies off this, you’ll know the song’s about to end,” Olson said of his dulcimer, which he had taken to Pocklington for repairs earlier in the day.
“Ah, the old trick of looking at the set-list,” he quipped later as Ringvold ended some mid-set confusion around what would be played next. The jokes reflected an enjoyable gig for the lucky few in attendance.
Review by Dan Allen