mon 21/09/2020

First Aid Kit, Symphony Hall, Birmingham | reviews, news & interviews

First Aid Kit, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

First Aid Kit, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Swedish sisters woo an all-seated crowd - eventually

The Söderberg sisters: Johanna (left) and Klara

All-seater, up-market concert halls can be a bit intimidating to bands when they are used to more intimate venues. Silences can feel awkward and stage talk can dry up or be reduced to perfunctory “thank you”s. So it almost proved this evening when First Aid Kit strode onto the stage of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

All-seater, up-market concert halls can be a bit intimidating to bands when they are used to more intimate venues. Silences can feel awkward and stage talk can dry up or be reduced to perfunctory “thank you”s. So it almost proved this evening when First Aid Kit strode onto the stage of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

Kicking off with “The Lion’s Roar”, the title track from their profile-raising second album and quickly moving onto “Stay Gold”, the title track of their new disc, the Söderberg sisters barely acknowledged those that had come to see them and initially received muted applause for their efforts. At this point, singer and guitarist Klara was forced to retreat from the stage to rearrange herself, leaving sister Johanna having to somewhat unexpectedly fill time with lame cheese jokes and some uncomfortable silences.

'Have you guys heard of Simon and Garfunkel?'

Klara’s return, however, seemed to finally ignite the evening and with an introduction of “It’s Friday evening and we wanted to play some party anthems, so here’s a song about a middle-aged woman who hates herself” the band struck up their 2012 heartbreaker “Blue”. Who said that Swedes have no sense of humour?

This was followed by the audience clap-along “King of the World” and the beautiful harmonising of “This Old Routine”, both also from The Lion’s Roar. Melvyn Duffy’s pedal steel wailed throughout, adding real atmosphere to the Söderberg's folkie/country and western tunes. In fact, it was almost surprising not to see the band, who are so often seen in kaftans and floppy hats, clad in pristine Nudie suits – Grand Ole Opry style.

Things remained fairly mellow until a cover of Jack White’s “Love Interruption” raised the tempo and the volume. This bluesy rock stomper had hair flying and feet stamping on the stage but the mainly greying audience stayed resolutely in their seats. However, the band soon calmed down again and First Aid Kit rounded things off with the laid-back “Master Pretender” and “Wolf” which paradoxically finally caused the crowd to make a bit of noise.

Returning for an encore, singer and keyboard player Johanna grabbed a microphone and asked the crowd, “Have you guys heard of Simon and Garfunkel?” She clearly couldn’t see the banks of the older end of the gig-going audience seated in front of her, as she didn’t skip a beat before launching into a slightly ditzy and rambling introduction to the US duo’s “America”. This was followed by the barn dance stomp of “Heaven Knows” that got a few up on their feet. But when they rounded things off with their sublime signature tune “Emmylou” with its refrain of “I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June, if you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too” the momentum was lost somewhat. No-one minded though as by now everyone was on-board and singing along to their heart’s content.

Melvyn Duffy’s pedal steel wailed throughout, adding real atmosphere to the Söderberg's folkie/country and western tunes

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Comments

"Paul Simon, he's a great little man" was my favourite bit of an otherwise concert.

Great concert but poor review here! How can you fail to mention the track 'Ghost Town' which was played with no microphones!! That was a magical moment, the highlight of a great concert!

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