First Aid Kit + The Staves @ o2 Academy, 7th November 2018

The massive queue of people from the Pagoda island to the venue should have assured me that much has changed in the world of First Aid Kit from when I last saw them live.    Later on, when I start counting backwards I realise that it is more than eight years ago. Back then they were a young duo on a delightful sunny day with a small, music savvy audience in attendance.  Now they are in a sold out o2 Academy on a bleak wet Birmingham night.

Special guests for this tour are The Staves, who are reason enough for anyone to be out this evening.  For me this is an immense bonus.  It’s around three years since they were last in Birmingham and a majority of the audience are in early to see them. 

The three sisters from Hertfordshire have been busy, we are assured, spending time in the States and working on new material.  There is the distinct promise of a new album and a tour next year which pleases many here.   The set is short and captivating. The beauty and gentleness of the vocals and harmonies touching.  The set opens with a capella Hopeless which showcases their voices and includes Let Me Down, new song Satisfied and a cover of The Whole of the Moon before closing with Mexico. It’s pure delight to hear them play again.

The venue is hot tonight and there is a delay before First Aid Kit arrive on stage as a couple of audience members are in difficulty and need to be assisted to the side.  The audience mix is broad, from teens to those in their sixties, water is being handed out early on.   

The Söderberg sisters have mass appeal and its good to see a lot of younger women in the audience by comparison with the bands I often see.  Their most recent album Ruins was released at the start of this year and EP’s Live from the Rebel Hearts Club and Tender Offerings have followed in 2018 too, I’m expecting songs from these to be featured in the set. 

They start silhouetted on a riser with the band for opener Distant Star.  I’m immediately struck by how accomplished they are, they retain all the charm I remember but with a far rockier edge to their style of folk.  The sisters are for most of the gig spotlighted at the front and the interaction and playfulness between them remains.

The set includes Its A Shame, Emmylou and the wonderful King of the World.  The unusual part of tonight is highlighted brilliantly.  Both First Aid Kit and The Staves are successful sets of sisters.  All are loving the time shared on this tour and backstage have been singing together.  Johanna and Klara then bring Emily, Camilla and Jessica back on the stage to join them.  All five players are centrally positioned to share a microphone and cover Runs In the Family, it is breathtaking. 

The encore is Rebel Heart, the stunning Fireworks and the audience accompanying them on My Silver Lining.  Its been a wonderful night, I’ve seen what all that potential became with First Aid Kit turning in an outstanding performance to a packed out crowd. 

Reviewer and Photographer: Stephanie Colledge 

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