Stay Gold – A Review of First Aid Kit Live in Concert, January 2015

Bath is a beautiful city; the chilling temperature and pouring rain did little to change this. If anything the shimmer afforded to the streets by the rain, and the lampposts shining through the rain drops made it even more magical than usual. After a delicious halloumi panini from the aptly named Cosy Club it was time to meet my fellow First Aid Kit aficionados and head on over to The Forum.

First Aid Kit are one of the many fantastic bands recently who have made their name in the popular folk revival we have been enjoying recently. Made up of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, they are renowned for their harmonious singing and country influenced sound. Their most recent album, Stay Gold, is an absolutely wonderful listen with each song being masterfully written and accompanied by excellent instrumental work.

Support for their current UK tour (their biggest to date) comes in the form of Kimberly Anne, who performed an excellent opening set. Her powerful vocals reminded me of Tracey Chapman; this coupled with her strong guitar skills and ingenious use of a loop pedal and kick drum to build up her songs, made for a great performance. She also did a commendable job of warming up the crowd by getting us involved in the backing vocals for her song, “Hard As Hello”. During the interval she invited the crowd to collect free tea bags and a URL link for a free download of her from the merchandise stand – this is musician who knows how to couple music with tea!

This set had really got us excited for First Aid Kit to take to the stage, and when the lights were cut a few minutes later the crowd went wild. Even more so when the smiling sisters from Sweden strolled onto the stage. They quickly took their positions and opened the set with “The Lion’s Roar”. When they took the time to talk to the crowd they came across a genuinely lovely people who were delighted to be touring and playing their songs to fans across the world. Listening to how brilliant their lyrics are, I find it incredible to remember that English is not their first language and yet they use it so beautifully. The most beautiful moment of the gig came when the duo stepped aside from their microphones and performed “Ghost Town” from the front of the stage, with no amplification. Hearing their voices coming only from them, with no assistance from the microphones and speakers was an incredible moment.

The Swedish Folk duo take to the stage at Bath's Forum Venue

The Swedish Folk duo take to the stage at Bath’s Forum Venue

One of the best things about live performances are the surprise covers that bands often treat us to. First Aid Kit here surprised us all with an energetic cover of Jack White’s “Love Interruption” and a soulful reimagining of The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset”. One of the later songs in their set was “Master Pretender”, from their latest album. This was perhaps my favourite song from the night and really allowed the duo to shine, as well as their touring drummer and steel pedal player. They ended their set with the hugely popular “Emmylou” during which they again stepped in front of their microphones to play to us on a more personal level.

With music that is so wonderful to listen to and a performing energy that captivates listeners for the entire time they are present, First Aid Kit are a band that cannot be missed.