fanfarlo and first aid kit @ Bush Hall


I suppose at the start of a review I should probably explain who the bands are and why I went to the gig, this being a personable blog and all, not your budget music review in the Metro. Thing is, I’m not sure if I can, or should. You see at this gig, for the first time in years, I actually took notes so I’d know what to write about afterwards, so I think instead I’ll open with this:

It was a cold, wet, horrible Tuesday, the second wet day in a row and after a few September weeks of sunshine it really felt like winter, or at the very least, autumn, was finally upon us. Sitting in the office all day looking out the window to dark skies and pouring rain my thoughts drifted to heading home and getting comfortable in front of the TV, which sadly seemed rather inviting. This was until I got the email I had been waiting for, a ticket to the gig. Keith shall go to the ball. A little ray of sunshine came through a crack in the sky (metaphorically of course, my life is not that poetic) and things looked a little bit brighter. I was off to see two new bands who I think will be rather successful next year, and who I was very excited to see. Very excited indeed.

first aid kit

First up were First Aid Kit, hailing from Sweden. The teenage sisters (Klara and Johanna) have had a fantastic year, releasing their debut EP, ‘Drunken Tree’s’ and then re-releasing it after the internet success of their cover of Fleet Foxes ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’. I couldn’t even get in the tent at End of the Road Festival last month to see them and after they’d pulled out of their support slot for Slow Club a few weeks ago (to arrange American Visa’s), it was third time lucky for me. Their harmonies were hauntingly beautiful and songs like ‘You’re not coming home tonight’ and ‘Tangerine’ showed wisdom and heart beyond their young years. ‘Tangerine’ was reminiscent of Bright Eye’s ‘Lua’, achingly painful and raw live, whilst hiding a subtle tenderness; it was certainly the highlight of the set for me. They started to play ‘Ragged Mountain’ but gave up a few lines into the first verse in favour of ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’ for their Fleet Foxes cover, which, after the disappointment of seeing Fleet Foxes at EOTR and finding them hollow, empty and distant, was uplifting and special. It was incredible to see First Aid Kit breath some life and some joy into it. They carried this on through the rest of their set. They were lovely, funny and engaging with the audience which was the icing on the cake of a great set. Third time lucky? You bet.

Then after a quick interval and buying First Aid Kit’s single ‘Hard Believer’ thanks to the impressive sales pitch on stage of being shouted at to “GO BUY IT!!!”, helped by the fact the sisters were signing everything and anything at their tiny merchandise table, it was onto the headline act, the main event, Fanfarlo.

I blogged a few weeks ago about Fanfarlo‘s single ‘The Walls are Coming Down’ which got me hooked, and after checking out their debut album ‘Reservoir’ in the days leading up to the gig I was very excited. Only a few band members made it onto the stage for the opener ‘I’m a Pilot’, just the guitars with the remaining band members arriving throughout the song to crowd the tiny Bush Hall stage. It looked rather cosy up there.

A few songs in and I thought they were superb, Simon Balthazar’s delicate voice (which I was unsure of whether it would carry in a live open space) reaching out to the very back of the hall, powerful yet slight. He thought that the gig was “going pretty well” as he announced to the crowd before they launched into ‘The Walls are Coming Down’ with a group harmony of the chorus before building up the drums and trumpet to properly kick the song off, leaving goosebumps on my arms.

They were good, very good, maybe too good! The Bush Hall seems like a stepping stone to larger venues, massive albums sales and national adoration. Whether they ascend to Arcade Fire levels of fame and adulation is yet to be seen, but on this display, they deserve it.

Fanfarlo’s encore included an invitation to First Aid Kit to joint them on stage for their last song, a cover of the Devendra Banhart song, “This is the way” which, I think we all have to thank Holly at Radar Maker for. Both act’s played at Field Day earlier in the year and Holly suggested that as they’re touring later on in the year, maybe they should do a collaboration, which was what I witnessed on a cold wet Tuesday night in West London, leaving me with a lovely warm feeling inside that carried me all the way home.

First Aid Kit You’re Not Coming Home Tonight

Fanfarlo I’m a Pilot


One Response to “fanfarlo and first aid kit @ Bush Hall”

  1. […] of decent quality, which is more than you can say about a certain Danish beer! What with Casiokids, First Aid Kit, Sebastian Lind, and (to a certain extent) Fanfarlo, we’re really being spoiled across the back […]

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