Peter, Bjorn and John with First Aid Kit
Kings Cross Scala, London
Thursday, March 5th 2009
Taking to the stage of the Scala in knitwear cardigan and hand-me-down plaid shirt, First Aid Kit look a bit like two girls in a school music act. But there is a buzz floating across the audience. Despite their youthful appearance, teenage sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg from Stockholm have a sound so seemingly developed they can comfortably sit alongside the cream of the current west-coast folk revival groups.
It’s their voices that first blow you away. Guitarist and lead vocalist Klara penetrates the audience’s soul with her powerfully delicious delivery, complemented beautifully by harmonies from her organ-grinding sibling Johanna.
The fabulous Not Coming Home Tonight is a paean of infidelity in a relationship gone sour over the years, a probable personal reference to the girls’ parents owing to the pain felt in the lyrics: “# Yeah you cooked his dinner and you raised his children / But still he’s not satisfied #”. Considering the dark subject matter, the song finishes brightly upbeat: “# The ship is sailing, I’ll meet you on the other side / The future is unclear but hopefully it will be fine #“.
A fine rendition of Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song is included in an eight song set that sits perfectly amongst other expansive and harmonious First Aid Kit songs, including the fantastic closer I Met Up With The King. Baroque ‘n’ roll.
There’s something of a crime of fashion contest in Kings Cross tonight, as Peter Bjorn and John appear with Peter wearing what looks to be Rick Astley’s suit circa 1987, along with rather fetching cravat. I like to think he pulls the look off.
At least it fits aptly with the 80s influenced direction the band is taking. Kicking proceedings off with an instrumental of synth-infused notes, Peter whips the crowd up into dancing along with pop-tastic moves that Abba would be proud of, before moving into the first song proper.
The night is very much a showcase for material from their forthcoming album ‘Living Thing’ on what was the band’s tenth anniversary. So, to really move the party up a gear Lay It Down is introduced. It’s a song which has been garnering internet popularity thanks in part to its great video and catchy, yet risqué lyrics about getting drunk at a party. It sounds something like X-rated S Club 7, and the chorus is bound to become a fans’ favourite: “# Hey, shut the fuck up boy / You’re starting to piss me off / Take your hands off that girl / You’ve already had enough #”.
Next up is the superbly danceable Nothing To Worry About, which contains the PB&J © stamp of low tempo beats and grimy melodies. They’ve been hanging around with Justice of late (according to Twitter, anyway) and the Parisian duo’s style has clearly rubbed off somewhat. The video of Japanese break-dancing rockers is pretty special too - a must see.
The Swedish trio play an extended version of Amsterdam before returning for a crowd pleasing encore of songs from their 2006 album Writer’s Block (including the ever popular Young Folks), finishing with the cracking Up Against the Wall.
words: Andy Fairclough
Living Thing by Peter Bjorn and John is released on March 30th by Wichita Records. Drunken Trees by First Aid Kit is out now.