Tuesday, 20 January 2015

FIRST AID KIT

Live Review

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

If you use Birmingham as a gauge then Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg have made a short but massive journey in three years.

A feel of the light show at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
Picture copyright Danny Farragher
That was when First Aid Kit were last in the Second City where they played The Rainbow and although in terms of venue they have only travelled a mile or so the surroundings of the impressive Symphony Hall couldn't be further away.
The Stockholm siblings have been on a lot of radars lately not only are they touring on the back of their latest album Stay Gold, they have their images on Swedish stamps and are in the running for a Brit Award in the best International Group category.
They opened their sell out gig in Brum with the title track of their album Lion’s Roar, Klara’s unmistakable voice cut through the darkness before the stage exploded in a burst of lights to reveal the quartet of musicians.
The Soderbergs on the Swedish stamps
The Soderbergs have created a signature sound which you could pick out of an orchestra in full swing with Klara on acoustic guitar and her sister rocking out in a swirl of hair on the keyboards playing behind their clear and definite harmonising.
Their performance came with a grittier and harder edge and more improvisation than you find on their albums. The depth and strength of their voices filled the hall with the sound which sets them apart straight away.
Klara brought in the title track of their new album, but then she disappeared off stage without a word and left Johanna trying desperately to fill in, there was an enormous, pregnant pause which was sliding into the uncomfortable before the missing sibling reappeared apologising that her earpiece wasn’t working.
Johanna tried her best to fill in but it just descended into silence, although the audience were pretty forgiving towards them.
Klara and Johanna Soderberg, First Aid Kit
They got back on track with Blue, another from their Lion album which although has a fairly light tune does have some biting lyrics.
Back in the groove they then kept the packed hall happy with tracks such as King of the World, another from their 2012 Lion album and Master Pretender, Waitress Song, My Silver Lining, This Old Routine and Shattered and Hollow a haunting and emotive song from their new album.
Without doubt one of the highlights of the night and that which garnered the loudest applause was when they did Ghost Town unplugged, drummer Scott Simpson and pedal steel expert Melvin Duffy taking a break as the sisters moved from behind their microphones and stood shoulder to shoulder on the edge of the stage. It was a brave move considering the size of the hall but even though there were just the two of them and a guitar they still managed to fill the massive hall with their lovely singing. One of their claims to fame is they have toured and recorded with Jack White who is somewhat of a cult hero, they paid tribute to him with their version of Love Interruption.
First Aid Kit on stage in Birmingham.
Picture copyright Danny Farragher

They followed this with a contrast in To A Poet which was another chance for Klara to show the range and real character of her voice. It was time to pick up the pace a little with Master Pretender from Stay Gold which has an almost African rhythm to it that was under girded by Duffy on pedal steel. The thumping drum beat from Simpson brought in Wolf which has that native American feel to it and they used it for the big finale.
After taking the throbbing song to its conclusion the voices of the sisters disappeared, this time together, leaving Duffy to slide out a deep twanging solo on the steel before he too sloped off leaving just Simpson hammering out the rhythm on his kit until the final beat where the lights went out and the music stopped.
First Aid Kit have created a signature sound which means they can be easily picked out of cacophony of music and the performance on stage is a little grittier and has more of a rock edge to it than you find on the albums and they seem to do it all with such little effort and as an added bonus it all comes with a pretty impressive light show too.