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FIRST AID KIT

Photo by Toni Wilkinson
Photo by Toni Wilkinson

The Gentle Good

Chevron Festival Gardens

Wednesday March 4, 2015

This evening was one of the first nights to reach sold out status on the Festival Gardens roster, so the bar staff got into the spirit of the occasion by wearing doctor and nurses outfits, with a dash of fake blood or bandages.

To warm the early revellers, The Gentle Good greeted all with a set of unique folk tunes.  The Gentle Good is essentially Welsh singer Gareth Bonello with a group of hired hands playing strings and his recently wedded wife, Jen, on backing vocals. The finger picked Pamela was soothing before The Gentle Good sang in Welsh about loss. The majority of the set was made up of tunes from the album Y Bardd Anfarwol which tells the story of Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai as Bonello’s soft voice melded elements of Welsh and Chinese folk music.

The Swedish sisters who make up First Aid Kit didn’t get to finish high school as they were too busy touring internationally, but they showed that they hadn’t been wasting their youth as they opened with a slick version of The Lions Roar. Johanna Söderberg looked as though she was straight out of the ’70s with her fringed waistcoat whilst making windmills with her mass of blonde hair. Blue had a Partridge Family feel about it with note perfect harmonies and deft keys.

The pedal steel was traded for mandolin and enthusiastic handclaps offered a percussive background throughout King Of The World as Klara Söderberg delivered a fine vocal performance that didn’t suffer the lack on Conor Oberst. During Waitress Song, she upped the ante to have a tone that resembled Neko Case as the band played the signature country-folk that First Aid Kit make sound effortless.

Celebrating that the duo were able to perform in front of Paul Simon at the Swedish Music Awards, the siblings gave a stripped back take on Simon & Garfunkle’s America. It was a cover that fared much better than the stodgy rock of Jack White’s Love Interruption which didn’t play to any of the bands strengths. It was shown to be even more out of place when followed with a  sublime Master Pretender where Klara Söderberg was at her most awkward when strutting around with her acoustic guitar.

The band were introduced and each played a solo before they left the stage one by one during a contrived ending to Wolf. First Aid Kit returned for an upbeat country hoe-down of Heaven Knows and the trademark tune Emmylou. As a band First Aid Kit were youthful, enthusiastic, gawky and most of all entertaining as all get out!

CHRIS HAVERCROFT