First Aid Kit, Colston Hall

first aid kit

In attempting to give an honest appraisal of First Aid Kit, the fact that there is a member of the Fix collective who is such a die hard fan that he saunters around Bristol wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the sisters Söderberg could prove restricting. Luckily for our relationship, First Aid Kit provide an experience of aural excellence, showing themselves to have blossomed into a real class act.

With Johanna and Klara Söderberg on guitar and keys respectively and sharing vocals, and backed by drums and pedal steel guitar, the show flows between something like a hoedown and more of a night-time vigil. While their vocals could be mildly criticised for their American twang (“mirror” in the track “Blue” sounding more like “meer”), the sister’s ability to create stunning joint melody through their near-identical voices in songs such as “In The Hearts Of Men” leave some members of the audience visibly moved. Their joint vocals, usually used to sing the same notes, is less like harmonisation and creates more of a double-tracking effect.

First Aid Kit have added a sense of showmanship to their beautiful sounds. Opening song “Stay Gold”, from their latest album of the same title, comes backed with a glistening golden stage set, the introductory deep strings echoing around Colston Hall long before the band takes the stage. If the musicians had popped on braces and waistcoats for “Heaven Knows” then they could have resembled a Mumford & Sons tribute act, yet it still produces a pleasing shindig. The cover of “Love Interruption” by Jack White, who they have been touring with, is excellent.

The outstanding point of the night is easy enough to pinpoint. For their rendition of “Ghost Town” the sisters ditch their microphones and their backing band to lead the audience in a totally unplugged version of the song. With the crowd softly singing along to the chorus (“I found myself attached to this railroad track; But I’ll come back to you some day; To you; To you; To you; Some day”) the gig becomes like a candlelit Lourdes vigil, and is utterly gorgeous.

First Aid Kit are playing Royal Albert Hall on 24th September, and are then touring Europe.

Conal Dougan