First Aid Kit at The Sydney Opera House
We first saw the Swedish sisters, Johanna and Klara Söderberg, a few years ago playing at a festival in England in a hot, stuffy tent with revellers scattered around on hay bales and oil drums. Even through the din, they belted out their tunes and made us sit up and listen, enraptured. To see them go from that to a sold-out Opera House was pretty special, as the girls themselves admitted on stage as they took in the awe-struck crowd. And their performance was a further demonstration that almost everything musically that exits that country is sublimely cool, and of an out-of-this-world talented nature. It must be something in the water.
The Söderberg sisters are incredibly young (Johanna is 22 and Klara doesn’t turn 20 until next week) but they have the talent and musical ability of those with far greater experience and age. Klara was consistently note perfect with her vocal solos while she calmly fingerpicked her acoustic guitar, while Johanna fanned her skirt and tapped out melodies frantically on her keyboard, also lending her voice to songs’ harmonies. The pair were accompanied by percussion and pedal steel, adding layers of lush texture to their extensive set list of Americana-tinged country-folk-rock songs filled with intoxicating melodies and emotional lyrics.
A highlight of the evening was when the group disbanded and the girls stepped away from their mics to take advantage of the Opera House acoustics to perform a chilling version of their track Ghost Town. To hear the murmurs of hundreds of people singing along to the song was a lovely thing. The climax of their performance was followed by their breakthrough track Emmylou (a dedication to Emmylou Harris and other idols), while The Lion’s Roar closed the set. The ladies headbanged, swishing their long beautiful locks to the emotion-driven track like they were in a Pantene commercial.
The pair returned for their encore with a performance of “the greatest songwriter ever” Paul Simon’s America (before which they told the audience they had performed the cover for the man himself recently at the Polar Music Prize).
First Aid Kit gave us shivers with their talent and charming stage personas and the rest of the sold-out audience clearly felt the same way, as the band was afforded a very deserved standing ovation at the end of their heartwarming, emotional set.