Swedish guitars

It had been years since I last visited the location of the Atelier. Strange enough, last Tuesday, the interior seemed smaller to me than I recalled. Other details had not changed at all: the Spartan interior or the shabby toilets. Right now, the guys and gal from the Luxembourgish indie band The Tame and the Wild were doing their opening act, which was quite nice and attracted a part of the public that had found its way to the Rue de Hollerich. But many still stood outside savouring the summer evening until unmistakable noises announced the start of the main show.

First Aid Kit is a quite large neo-folk formation with two singer-guitarists, a drummer, a keyboard and pedal steel guitar player who at times have a flirt with a brass instrument or a mandolin. The two cheerful Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, are clearly the front women of the group, singing, playing guitar and speaking to the public between the songs. Wearing long dresses, they even at times do some synchronized choreographies with their guitars or their manes of hair during the show. The guys of the band for their part stay in the background. Most of the local audience seemed to be acquainted with the band and their music, swinging and humming along in accordance with the songs. At the same time, the use of the instruments is perfectly organized, especially the exchanging of guitars of different kinds between nearly all the songs. Only the acoustics were not optimal and the sounds of the different instruments were often blurred.

With songs like “Postcard” or “Ghosttown”, First Aid Kit seems to hit a key with a public mainly composed of couples and other romantic souls of different generations and genders. But the two young ladies were also spreading dance fever with more rhythmic pieces like “I’ll be your Emmylou“. Some nicely put cover versions were also on the menu, for instance Kate Bush’s “Running up that Hill”. The beautiful voices and the catchy melodies, sometimes at the limit to superficial folkpop, do not make political statements impossible. One of the two sisters used the opportunity to speak up against sexism, addressing herself specifically to the many male fans in the audience: “Next time you hear sexist remarks, you should answer: You know what, that’s not fucking funny.”

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