Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg, aka First Aid Kit, are both disarmingly young; the latter a frankly ancient 19 to the former’s 16. Though it’s deeply patronising to seem shocked when anyone under the age of 20 manages to so much as tie their shoelaces, it’s still amazing to find these two teenagers, resplendent in primary coloured smocks, stood nervously on the bare stage amidst the grandeur of Highbury’s Union Chapel.
The urge to run up on stage and check whether they’ve lost their parents is quickly dispelled by a performance of quiet devastation, with the pair’s simple songs of longing and emotional upheaval resonating around the vast space above the awestruck crowd. The key to songs such as the gorgeous Hard Believer or the jaunty Sailor Song (both taken from their full-length debut, The Big Black And The Blue) is the way the sisters’ worldly worn vocals harmonise perfectly, coalescing into something genuinely stirring. There are times when it’s hard to believe the pair are singing live, such is the effortless way they go about what they do.
It’s this breezy confidence that makes them so charming, not least when they start interacting with the crowd, with Klara revealing herself to be quite the storyteller. At one point she asks the crowd if there’s anything we’d like her to do, to which someone shouts out “just sing”. Her reply is instantaneous: “That’s cool. I didn’t have anything else planned.”
The crowd are enraptured as the sisters continue through a speeded-up version of early favourite Tangerine and their spellbinding version of Fleet Foxes‘ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song, an early performance of which has now been watched over a million times on YouTube. Filmed live and unadorned in a forest, the video allows the voices to shine. It’s a feeling replicated tonight with Ghost Town, the sisters standing at the very front of the stage, singing up to the rafters. There’s a perfect moment at the end when complete silence is held for a nanosecond before an almighty roar threatens to bring bits of the roof down.
After two short encores and a fantastic run through of album highlight I Met Up With A King, it’s over all too briefly. Leaving to a standing ovation, the two teenagers smile broadly and shuffle awkwardly off stage, Klara reaching down to pick up an oversized rucksack on her way. One can only assume she has homework to finish.