Sweden’s First Aid Kit played a flawless set Monday evening at the Paradise Rock Club in support of their sophomore album The Lion’s Roar. For young sisters – Johanna is 22 and Klara is 19 – who got their start from a YouTube cover of a Fleet Foxes song, I wasn’t expecting the absolutely polished stage presence and excellent performances that they brought to the Paradise. But from the moment they stepped onto the stage in their flowing 70s-inspired dresses, they had my and the entire audience’s rapt attention.
The girls opened with This Old Routine and followed with a good mix of songs off of The Lion’s Roar as well as a few from 2010’s The Big Black and Blue. The crowd was a good mix of young fans, to older couples and even a few families. And judging by the applause after old favorites like Hard Believer and new tracks like Blue, there seemed to be a good split of longtime fans and new converts.
Monday night was also Emmylou Harris’ birthday, so it was a fitting tribute when the girls performed Emmylou. But the real highlight of the night was when, about halfway through their set, Klara stepped away from the keyboard and Johanna put down her guitar and the two stood at the very front of the stage to sing an a cappella version of Ghost Town that was absolutely beautiful. Before they started singing, they waited for absolute silence in the room, but encouraged everyone to sing along if they knew the words. With one song, they managed to transform the Paradise into what felt like a singalong beside a campfire, with everyone singing along in the background. The a cappella version of Ghost Town earned the loudest applause of the night.
The girls will be back in New England for July’s Newport Folk Fest, and judging by their performance Monday night, they will absolutely have the crowd entranced.
Peggy Sue, a trio from London, England opened the night with a much louder, and atmospheric set. Lead singers Rosa and Katy paralleled the amazing harmonies that First Aid Kit is known for, but added expanding drums and drones to offer a completely different sound. The crowd was impressed, especially when they performed covers of pop songs from the 50s and 60s like Heat Wave and Blue Velvet. They definitely earned a few new fans Monday night.