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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Gigs - First Aid Kit - Manchester Academy

Star rating – 8/10

After the charm of The Secret Sisters at the Ruby Lounge a few weeks ago, comes another delightful sibling creative coupling in the shape of Swedish duo First Aid Kit. And to be honest, anyone who can write a song about Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, who happen to be my all time favourite duet pairing, and set the standard of how to wrap one beautiful voice around another in perfect harmony, is off to a very promising start in my book.
Johanna and Klara Sonderberg are surprisingly young, at 21 and 19, but confidently command the stage with their beautiful fresh music. They have a folksie country sound, with some perfect pop thrown in, as in the aforementioned ‘Emmylou’, which has been much played by the likes of 6 Music. They played this perfect crowd pleaser about the craft of classic country duets like Harris/Parsons and Cash/Carter quite early on in the set instead of saving it up. But lots of other tracks from their accomplished second album ‘The Lion’s Roar’ sounded just as good. 

Some of their songs have lyrics redolent of much more mature artists, like their opener ‘This Old Routine’ about relationships going stale. And on the subject of their lyrics, it never ceases to amaze me how people from other countries write songs, sing, and speak so fluently in English when it is not their native tongue. Cue to hang our British heads in shame I think...

They did a brave number without their microphones, and ‘Ghost Town’ really sounded more melodic and haunting for it. They did go a bit new age/prog rock at the end, with their long hair flying about the stage like some sort of female Jethro Tull, but their music, voices, and personalities are so charming it was a minor blemish. They finished with the rousing ‘King of the World’ ... ‘I'm nobody's baby, I'm everybody's girl. I'm the queen of nothing. I'm the king of the world.’ First Aid Kit are the perfect combination of light and shade, and they really are a joy to behold.

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