Saturday, 20 September 2014

Live In 2014: First Aid Kit at The Colston Hall, Bristol on Friday 19th September

It was across the Severn Bridge yet again on a hot and sultry September evening for my first gig by First Aid Kit. And what an evening it would be.

The support artist for the evening was Manchester based singer/songwriter Jo Rose.
He has just released his debut album on download (on cd at the gigs) called Spurs.

Tonight it was just Jo and his guitar. On the album, the sound is enhanced by other musicians.

I've been listening to the album on Spotify for a few weeks and I've enjoyed it immensely. Tonight had a different vibe with the songs stripped right back but still as good.
Jo is an enchanting young fella and his songs are likewise with a sharper edge than you may think.

Jo engaged well with the Bristol crowd and had quite an applause following his set. He's one to watch.

Then came the Soderberg sisters from Stockholm, Sweden. Klara on guitar, Johanna on keyboards - First Aid Kit.

I had no idea what to expect, trying to keep away from youtube videos etc, not to spoil the show.

But I must admit, they blew me away.

With just the girls plus the excellent Melvin Duffy on Pedal Steel, Mandolin & Telecaster and a Swedish drummer who's name I couldn't catch.

The girl's latest album is called Stay Gold and the theme was the basis of their stage set and clothing. And it really looked stunning in it's simplicity.

They opened the show with the title track, Stay Gold. A mix of folk and country with a contemporary twist. The album is excellent and is the basis for the majority of the show.

What surprised me over the full length of the show was how upbeat the performance is. I wasn't expecting this as the albums are somewhat wistful and gentle but the new treatments of the songs worked well in the live format.

The girls have those superb harmonies that only siblings can have - think a female version of The Everly Brothers.

Next up was the delicate Blue from their previous album, The Lion's Roar.

I have included the set list at the bottom of the page - suffice to say there were a few surprises. Firstly there was a lovely acapella version by the two girls of Ghost Town from The Big Black & The Blue album which just brought the house down.

There was dancing, there was singing and so many smiling faces you could have lit up Bristol.

Another highlight was a storming version of the Jack White song Love Interruption. Together with strobes, electric guitar and genuinely rocking out  by the band.

It was amazing the sound that was created with such a small amount of instrumentation. On the musical side, Melvin Duffy stole the show with his mandolin & pedal steel guitar producing some wonderful sounds to accompany the sisters' soaring harmonies.

The ladies ended the set with the title track of The Lion's Roar which again was performed with a tremendous energy as opposed to the atmospherics of the album version.

The band then came back for a three song encore ending with Emmylou - which the crowd had been calling for all night.

It was a brilliant show - something I wasn't expecting. Full of energy and superb musicianship. The vocal harmonies were spellbinding on and the choice of songs the best they could have chosen for these live shows.

It was one of the best gigs I've seen all year.

Would I see them again - you bet your bottom Krona I would.

Come to Wales, ladies. We'd love to see you.

Twitter - @FirstAidKitBand


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