Live Review: First Aid Kit – Liverpool

First Aid Kit

Liverpool Guild of Students, 24 October 2018

Photos & Words: Gary Lambert 

First Aid Kit

Beautiful. Nine letters which sum up the combination of First Aid Kit and The Staves with more accuracy than any number of words in this review. Liverpool Guild of Students, and formerly Mountford Hall, has seen hundreds of gigs over the past 40+ years, but I cannot imagine that many of those nights have had such an ornate delicacy to them. These two bands should not have been playing in a room of over two thousand people. They are made for converted coffee shops and former art galleries, not rooms in which the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Placebo and The Jam have shook the walls. But there is no way to get all the fans of First Aid Kit and The Staves into the kind of rooms they are suited to without forcing the bands to play about six shows a day (all of which would sell out regardless of the time slot) and still committing several Health and Safety violations.

The Staves have been described by none other than David Crosby as “the best harmony group in the world”. If David Crosby is wrong, then tell me who is number one as I need to see them. Or at least hear them. To be fair, you don’t need to watch The Staves perform, it is not a high energy, dramatic show. Instead, the focus is on the music, and if this performance is any indicator of their expected standard, it is all the better for it. The three vocalists amazed me in how they managed to work together using their voices as instruments so often to create a thin wall of sound as beautiful, purposeful and fragile as a stained glass window. The effect it had on the crowd was mesmerising. They were silenced as though they were straining to hear the whispers on the wind. Even during a cover of The Waterboys’ Whole of the Moon, there was no attempt to clumsily sing with them.

The Staves

The Staves disciplined everybody in attendance for the rest of the night. This was the concert audience of dreams. Once the photographs of First Aid Kit had been taken and I moved to my favoured spot at the back of the hall, I was able to survey the audience’s reaction to the music. People were enthralled and respectful. It was only when each song finished and the audience burst into at times deafening applause and cheering that I remembered that everybody else was there. The massed silence created an intimacy that even sitting on the stage could not replicate.

As for First Aid Kit, it has been a few years since I last saw them live during The Lion’s Roar era which sent them soaring globally. If they were fabulous back then, now they are FABULOUS. There are more songs to choose from, there are more fans, but most of all there is more of First Aid Kit. No longer does it feel like the Soderberg sisters are enjoying themselves on stage and dragging anybody in earshot along for the ride. Instead, they have grown to be as much of a great live band as any of their counterparts regardless of musical genre. The light and video show perfectly merged with their performance to generate a feeling of this being an event like a festival headliner in the pitch black in the middle of nowhere rather than a gig in a large city. Both Klara and Johanna share the spotlight throughout the set, and the time they set aside to speak about each of the three musicians playing alongside them showed that they appreciate the team who work with them.

First Aid Kit

It was a night of many highlights musically, but the most memorable moment was the speech following You Are The Problem Here. This song deals with the rape culture in society and they questioned why it is never the assailant who is asked why they carried out a most heinous act, but so often victims are challenged as to their need to tempt the perpetrators. The contrast between the melodic wonder of the song and the passion of singer/orator enhanced the music and, most importantly, the message.

In ten years of being touring musicians, this was the first time that First Aid Kit had visited Liverpool, with the power in the performance and the love shown in return, Liverpool must surely hope that it is not the last.

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