Peter Bjorn and John, First Aid Kit

Joe Clark 05/03/2009

I get the impression that P,B&J could have played a much bigger venue to launch their new album, 'Living Thing'. The guest list queue snakes around the block while desperate ex-pat Swedes try their luck with the touts.

Or maybe everyone's here to see the rather splendid support, First Aid Kit. Young Swedish sisters they may be (17 and 15 according to internets) but their sound comes straight from the traditions of country, folk and blues. Rocking just an acoustic and keyboard for the most part, the songs are based around their frankly astonishing voices and the beautiful harmonies therein. It's not a fey folkyness on display, more something along the lines of Kristen Hersh or a more tuneful Scout Niblett. Spooky ballads, a hoedown and country pop are meted out to an increasingly interested crowd, before they ask rather sweetly, 'Have you heard of Fleet Foxes?'. Their cover of 'Tiger Mountain Peasant Song' is great, but it's a testament to their own material that it's by no means the highlight of a short set.

P,B&J then take the stage to a Jean Michel Noir synth opus which fades into an Air-like opening couple of numbers. So far so different. Then the scando-pop thrills kick in with the piano led 'Lay it Down' and its 'You're starting to piss me off' refrain. 'It Beats Me Everytime' and recent single 'Nothing to Worry About' keep the groove quotient high, with the latters children's choir backing vocals adding a spooky touch. Next up is an odd new one that sounds so much like 'The Kids Don't Stand a Chance' by Vampire Weekend that they may end up in court. Chuck in a rock freakout, pop-punk cover version (Fa Ce La by The Feelies) and a fantastic, epic 'Objects of my Affection' and you have a bewildering array of styles on show.

All songs from their biggest record, 'Writers Block', are banished to the encore. 'Let's Call It Off', an extended 'Young Folks' featuring thecocknbullkid and a New Order-ish 'Up Against the Wall' provide a rapturous ending to a real mixed bag of a show. The crowd seem really into it after the slow start, but the chopping and changing left me a bit bemused.

Peter, Bjorn & John's pick n mix was impressive, but it's First Aid Kit that I'll be seeking out again.

Picture by Crazybobbles.