First Aid Kit @ Colston Hall, Bristol, 19/09/2014

First AId KItFirst Aid Kit have become a big deal and it seems to have come almost out of nowhere. The Swedish sisters have always produced pleasant and enjoyable music, but nothing unique and colourful enough to go beyond the outer confines of Radio 2’s playlist. Yet on the back of their third album, Stay Gold, they’re on the cover of this very publication and selling out the 2,000 capacity Colston Hall months in advance.

In the opening stages of the gig, the duo – who are backed by a tour band comprising a drummer and a pedal steel player - seem keen to disprove any perception that they’re not colourful enough. Stay Gold is the name of their latest album and gold is very much the colour of the moment. A sparkling golden backdrop combines the duo's golden outfits and some bright gold lighting, as they play... Yes, you guessed it, "Stay Gold". But just as you expect them to launch into a Spandau Ballet cover they bring out the gorgeously melancholic "Blue" from their 2012 album The Lion's Roar.

The opening half of the gig is very slick - almost too slick. Their fifth song of the evening - "Shattered & Hollow” - has the purest of pure drum beats which resonates around the hall. I cynically focus on the drummer to see if there’s anything artificial about the sound he’s producing, until the gorgeous sound easily defeats me. The Colston Hall is renowned for its impressive acoustics, and First Aid Kit give off one of the purest sounds I have experienced in a venue of this size. They’re not just treating Bristol as another gig on the tour to tick off; a great deal of loving care has been put into the sound setup of the gig.

The set almost entirely draws from the duo's two most recent albums: Stay Gold and The Lion's Roar, both produced by Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes. However the sisters clearly have a lot of time for their first album, The Big Black and the Blue. They take the brave step of delivering "Ghost Town" from this album without microphones, amplifiers, or backing band. I have no idea what those at the back of the cavernous concert venue think of this, but for those of us stationed at the front, this is an absolute treat.

"Ghost Town" best shows how wonderfully in sync with one another the sisters are. Individually they have impressive singing voices, but when they harmonise together, they accompany each other perfectly and almost take on an ethereal quality. With this song they demonstrate they’re just as capable as a low key duo as they are with a perfectly tuned band.

All doubts dismissed,  the positivity continues throughout the gig. It would be nigh on impossible though for me to enjoy the concert as much as the teenage girl in front of me, who is doing the complete fan girl act - from clapping out of sync through pure excitement to screaming with delight at every song. This makes me realise how foolish I had been to consider this music not edgy enough to inspire passion in the fans. The wheel has not been reinvented tonight at Colston Hall. Yet it doesn't need to be - the gig was a heart warming experience and ultimately that is all music needs to be a lot of the time.

Download Issue 19 of the magazine, featuring First Aid Kit on the front cover, from here.


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