First Aid Kit, Royal Albert Hall, gig review: Swedish sisters are wonderfully bitter-sweet


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For any band on the rise, ticking off great venues is a way of charting progress that may mean more than sales.

And First Aid Kit – Swedish siblings Klara and Johanna Söderberg – knew that a show at the Royal Albert Hall was special. They recounted how, five years ago, their booking agent had predicted this moment, and they had struggled to share her optimism. Now here they were, very much at home, pulling off the trick of making a big space seem small.

Harmonies as resplendent as First Aid Kit’s might have been made for this arena. Steeped as they are in Simon and Garfunkel, First Aid Kit – Klara on acoustic guitar, Johanna on keyboards, plus three backing musicians – kept the audience enthralled with songs that rippled with forward movement and had a wonderful bitter-sweet quality about them.

First Aid Kit don’t break new ground. Barring one excursion into the wilder shores of a Jack White cover, their stage presence was rather homely. But what’s interesting about them is that while they are in many ways American on the outside, on the inside they remain European. They balance freedom with precision, and what they do they do supremely well.