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First Aid Kit Live
Craig Fitzpatrick, 20 Mar 2012
I can’t be entirely certain (an affliction of relative youth), but I suspect the old Dublin Working Men’s Club never, in its century-plus existence, played host to two cherubic Scandinavian girls with a Carter Family fixation.
Long since sold-out, this evening’s entertainment with the sisters Söderberg is something of an event, and the air as they take to the stage is heavy with expectation. Judging by the massive cheers throughout and the mass singalongs that catch the unconverted by surprise, apparently the entire city has spent the bulk of 2012 thus far playing First Aid Kit’s new Lion’s Roar album through and then hitting repeat.
I’d been a non-believer up ‘til now, my only previous acquaintance with the duo being through a YouTube window some years back where they earnestly worked their way through a Fleet Foxes number. Clearly endowed with glorious harmonies and no small amount of teenage talent, in this day and age you still expected them to fade, the novelty appeal shifting perhaps to some video of a dancing sea-lion.
On this evening’s evidence, however, they are the real, old-fashioned deal and in it for the long haul – that second album being a real step up. So I’m admittedly caught unawares. I didn’t expect the raucous head-banging (and they have the hair for it) that makes up the final third. I didn’t expect them to work the crowd in such a mature (almost strict school-teacher) way. I didn’t expect the front-of-stage, communal version of ‘Ghost Town’ to captivate quite so much. I didn’t expect the stripped-down trio (and the drummer can take much credit here) to pack such a sonic punch.
With their primary influences now drawn from the greats of Americana – one ode, ‘Emmylou’, does Ms. Harris real justice – they’ve strayed from alt. folk and actually seem on course to exceed the work of their older contemporaries in Europe. Mumford and your sons, these Swedish sisters are gunning for you. The songs are deftly crafted, the set dynamics flawless, but their ace remains that unique vocal blend. It suggests that if God really exists, he constructs a family’s vocal chords in the hope they form a travelling band someday.