First Aid Kit at Somerset House Summer SeriesCultureMusicLive music
On a balmy summer’s evening in central London, what could be better than a concert at one of the most iconic venues the capital has to offer? The Somerset House Summer Series is somewhat of an institution for Londoners who get to see top artists perform in the cobbled courtyard. It really is the perfect way to end a summer’s day.
First Aid Kit, Swedish sister duo Johanna and Klara Söderberg, take to the stage just as the sun is setting. Wearing floating psychedelic dresses and long hair down, the sisters look like they have just stepped out of Woodstock from the 70s. The outdoor venue is ushered to silence as the notes of Blue begin, and this incredible reverence to the band continues throughout the night.
Their harmonies are truly spectacular. On record, sometimes reverb eclipses the natural timbre of their voices, but live they sound richly organic. Lead vocalist Klara has a beautifully strong vocal and her guitar skills are exceptional. During New Year’s Eve, where it is just her and an autoharp, she weaves dreams with her voice.
Johanna plays the keyboard and provides the harmonies, singing in a slightly less pure tone but all the better for it. The sisters never once veer out of tune with each other. The stories they tell in their folksy style are achingly beautiful. Their sound is made all the more enchanting by the simple scattering of fairy lights around the stage, which make them look and sound angelic in a hippy paradise.
The band’s country music influence is never more apparent than in their hit Emmylou, which they dedicate to the joy of singing country couples like Johnny Cash and June Carter, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. It sparks a quiet yet passionate sing-along from the audience.
First Aid Kit play three covers tonight by Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and America by their favourite writer, Paul Simon. Each one stands up and showcases the influence of these great songwriters upon their own sound. During Ghost Town, each time Klara plucks her guitar, the church bells of London are audible between strums. It’s a moment of pure magic.
The combination of the heat, the gorgeous voices and the glorious venue of Somerset House made tonight feel strangely emotional and majestic. Like an intimate folk festival, First Aid Kit brought otherworldly beauty to London’s summertime.
Photos: Luna Ingrassia
For further information about First Aid Kit and future events visit here.
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