First Aid Kit @ O2 Academy, Bristol 27.11.12

Releasing a second album is probably one of the most difficult feats in the music industry and it’s safe to say that First Aid Kit have undeniably triumphed with this year’s The Lion’s Roar. Made up of Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg, the girls are a leading force in the alt-country circuit. Proving a hit at various festivals across the country, the band are now headlining their very own tour and tonight, they play to a sold-out crowd at Bristol’s O2 Academy.

Nov 27th, 2012 at O2 Academy, Bristol / By Samantha Maine
First Aid Kit @ O2 Academy, Bristol 27.11.12 The venue is bursting at the seams, with the audience crammed onto the stairs and balcony. The beginning of the set is signalled with a stunning forest projection and an ambient, sombre soundtrack to which the girls and their drummer Nicolas walk on-stage. The sisters are dressed in pretty, flowing dresses and begin with an accapella opening that immediately has the audience in awe.

Next up is ‘Blue’ – perfectly showcasing the band’s ability to tell a story through their song-writing skills. As usual, the harmonies are faultless and they continue to impress with renditions of ‘Wolf’ and ‘Hard Believer.’ ‘To a Poet’ is a surprising highlight, as its lyrical content engrosses and affects all that have ever suffered heartbreak.

Halfway through, the girls take a break from “modern technology” and perform ‘Ghost Tale’ completely unplugged. It’s an absolute treat witnessing the raw talent that got these sisters noticed in the first place and for once, the Academy listen with silent respect. Towards the end, the crowd join in and the room fills with a raucous applause.

As the band begins ‘Emmylou,’ the reaction is the loudest of the evening. A modern-day country classic, the girls pay homage to the great singers before them and continue to prove their worth with faultless vocals. The crowd sing their hearts out to every syllable, making ‘Emmylou’ an absolute favourite.

After a gut-busting rendition of ‘The Lion’s Roar’ that enables the band to whip their hair like no other, the crowd whoop and whistle until they reappear for their encore. We’re treated to a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘America’ that the band was able to perform for Paul Simon himself earlier this year. It’s easy to see why they were given such an honour, as they give one of the greatest songs of all time a breath of fresh air - proving that these sisters might just be the next best duo.

Dedicating songs to the likes of Pussy Riot and Richard Dawkins, Johanna and Klara aren’t your usual folk-tinged sweethearts. Providing adorable on-stage banter and seriously rocking out where needs must, the band is able to give an old genre a new face and a new sound.