live review

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

September 16 2010
The Wine Cellar and Whammy Bar, Auckland

Reviewed by Janine Harrison
25th September 2010

First Aid Kit (Sweden)
with support from Chelsea Jade and James Duncan
Thursday 16th Sept 2010
The Wine Cellar and Whammy Bar - Auckland

Chelsea Jade & James Duncan  make for an arresting musical couple on the tiny Wine Cellar stage. He is an old hand on the Auckland music scene and she is the pretty blonde in the much feted folk band The Teacups.

Chelsea starts with “Mountain Song” with the gorgeous refrain “I’m still cold with the lights on”. She has a voice that floats and soars like Feist, and she uses her voice as percussion; together with the lone drum that she hits during songs and it makes for an icy and stark sound lovingly helped by the vocal loops and synths provided by James Duncan.

Chelsea is very pre-occupied by zumba these days –she especially likes the flavour of pain. Her pre, post and during ramblings contradict the songs that follow, but this helps to pull it out of Joy Division-esque industrial sadness and into a beautiful windswept landscape.

After a couple more of Chelsea’s songs, they swap places for “My New Flumes” from Duncan’s debut album “Hello Fi”. Described (jokingly?) as a “Break up song; our break up song” it starts slow, and after much heckling from Chelsea regarding Duncan’s vocals, it kicks off in the chorus - “Please don’t call this number again” – a fantastical electro indie duet with some truly alarming lyrics. Chelsea ends with a genuinely brilliant acoustic cover of “No Scrubs” before everyone trudges off to the Whammy Bar for First Aid Kit.

To watch the Swedish sisters sing live, so confident and with lyrics that transcend their age, it’s ridiculous to consider that not one of them is yet 20. But it is true, and it’s a wonderful thing. Their voices harmonise so beautiful, and they wove a magical spell over the audience, who stood transfixed throughout. They play songs from their debut album “The Big Black and the Blue” and delightfully banter in between about enjoying their time in New Zealand. (picking up shells from a beach was a particular highlight). Klara introduce their cover of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” as being “rad” just like the Fleet Foxes themselves. A gorgeous rendition followed, and when they finished they set away from their microphones to sing “Ghost Town.”

Next is a new untitled track, which Klara suggests we think of a name for. Audience suggestions so far are Steve or Eric – a shout out for Jurgen is politely demurred. She finds it amusing as an audience that “all you want to do is laugh all the time. I’m going to keep playing this intro until it’s serious again.” They play what could be their final song “It depends on you!” and stay on the stage whilst we shout for more. The barmaid requests “Cross Oceans” which Klara never wanted to sing again; but she promises to sing as much as she can bear. She manages a verse and a chorus before they stop. They finish with cover of the moving protest song by Buffy Sainte Marie, “Universal Soldier”, which they sing in the centre of the audience’s circle. It’s a beautiful ending to an amazing evening. First Aid Kit; soothing folk for everyone.

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