Words: Euan Tait.
It’s January, it’s a Monday night and it’s cold. The season of staying in is still upon us – yet the promise of Swedish sister act First Aid Kit gracing Edinburgh’s Usher Hall with their ethereal presence was too great to miss.
First to perform was Kimberly Anne. Her unique fusion of foot-tapping beats, unusual instruments and meaningful lyrical content made her support set nothing less than a pleasure. ‘Almost On My Feet’ is the result of a four hour writing and recording challenge she set herself and a ballad of beauty. Kimberly engaged with the crowd in between songs and eased the audience having tested the waters politely – “are you alright with questions?” The merch desk was home to Kimberly Anne tea bags with free song download details – the most ingenious homemade marketing initiative I’ve seen to date.
First Aid Kit’s dramatic entrance was completed with flashing lights and a smoke-filled stage. ‘The Lion’s Roar’ and ‘Stay Gold’ got things off to a great start, Johanna relishing in some kind of celestial moshing while Klara’s vocals shone. And the outfits. Tassels – check. Black and gold – check. The presence of Irn Bru, sugar free of course, thrilled the capital’s crowd – Klara declared it the “taste of heaven”. Five years ago they played Sneaky Pete’s and they could not quite believe the Usher Hall had sold out for them. Their self-deprecating humour charmed the audience. They announced they would be playing some party anthems – followed by ‘Blue’ and the story of a “middle-aged woman who is depressed and hates her life”.
Copious amounts of Irn Bru and musings of Edinburgh’s newly-opened cat café later, the stand out moment had to be the unamplified and centre stage performance of ‘Ghost Town’ which showcased the glorious harmonies and sheer power of the Söderberg’s vocals. Exquisite talent. The Usher Hall suited their brand of pensive folksiness to a tee. A dreamy version of ‘My Silver Lining’ made way for the tantalising opening riff of ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes – Johanna and Klara’s Jack White adulation made clear.
The dirty, stomping rhythm of ‘Wolf’ made for perfect exit music. While the encore, brought on by delighted whooping and constant clapping, seemed the perfect time to bring out their version of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘America’. Their interpretation was a wonder to behold. Johanna’s comedic timing of “and he was a sweet little guy” made their Paul Simon anecdote one to remember. ‘Heaven Knows’ followed before fan favourite ‘Emmylou’ – what else? – closed the show. The euphoric singalong, with the Söderberg sisters taking centre stage once more, sealed the deal on a set of stellar proportions.