On a boat with First Aid Kit

Following the Ironbath’s trip on Cayamo he hadn’t anticipated being on a boat listening to music so soon, but such are things that last week he found himself on the SS Thekla in Bristol harbour listening to former Cayamoan Samantha Crain & headline act, one of the hottest bands at the moment, Swedish siblings, First Aid Kit.

The SS Thekla was built in Germany in 1959 and operated as a Baltic coaster. In 1984 the cargo hold was converted into a theatre space and operated under the name ‘The Old Profanity Showboat’. It was subsequently given her original name (minus the SS) and is a grunge-y nightclub. Frankly the only similarity with Cayamo is that a can of Guinness is sold for £4.

Samantha Crain is a wonderful songwriter and was playing solo having left The Midnight Shivers at home for this tour. Unfortunately the sound system on Thekla didn’t do justice to the subtlety in her lyrics and playing. This video is a far better representation of her talents – ‘We Are The Same’.

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First Aid Kit are a band that featured at the top of a lot of ‘One to watch’ lists at the start of this year but their rise to fame started back in 2008 however 2012 saw the release of their second album, ‘The Lion’s Roar’.  They took to the stage at Thekla wearing heavily pleated dresses from the 1970’s with their hair trailing down their back. You’d imagine from their disarming retro style that you’ll be in for an evening of easy listening ballads.

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And on songs like ‘Emmylou’ (which they thoughtfully dedicated to Samantha Crain) you have a catchy lyric and pleasant melody in reverential tribute to Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, Johnny & June Cash. Then as their set develops you find that just under the surface there is an edge. Songs like ‘Blue’, ‘You’re Not Coming Home Tonight’ and ‘Heavy Storm’ are more closely aligned to an indie groove – a female Fleet Foxes if you like.

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First Aid Kit are Johanna & Klara Söderberg. They are young (19 & 22), but their youthful Swedish looks make them look even younger. It is hard to believe that they have had the life experience that is the basis for their intelligent lyrics.

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They have a great stage craft. They interacted well with the audience and seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage. They stepped in front of the microphones for a wonderful unamplified version of ‘Ghost Town’ that the crowd joined in with.

By the end of the set on ‘I Met Up With The King’ & ‘Old Routine’ their heads were furiously being shaken in a metallica-esque homage. Hair was flying everywhere and the pleated dresses and homely image suddenly seem quite incongruous to their music.

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The encore of their set featured Samantha Crain taking the lead vocal on her ‘The Dam Song’. Supported by Johanna & Klara’s harmonies it was really a great way to end the concert. It was one of those gigs where the Ironbath feels honoured to have seen them in such a small club as surely the next time they pass through they’ll be playing a much larger venue as for once their hype is entirely justified.

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Videos from their Thekla performance by Knappafire

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About Ironbath

The Ironbath is a passionate music lover.
This entry was posted in Cayamo, Emmylou Harris, First Aid Kit, Fleet Foxes, Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Samantha Crain. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On a boat with First Aid Kit

  1. Pingback: The Bowmans – The world’s most glorious harmonies | Ironbath

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