Marlon Williams graced the stage with just his shabby-chic hat and tie, acoustic guitar and a voice that left many spellbound for the majority of his opening set. The New Zealander, (now based in Melbourne) held long, wavering country notes, caressed lullaby-like tones and bullied out a gravelly blues delivery across originals and covers of The Carter Family, Everly Brothers and traditional folk songs. An immense talent that silenced the sold out Metro and drew rapturous applause.
First Aid Kit songs have a modern indie pop sheen informed by classic country/folk and live they were presented with guitar, pedal steel, drums and Johanna Söderberg’ synth bass. With a backdrop of glittering gold and similarly styled sparkling dresses the sister duo played a range of songs from their three albums. The latest, Stay Gold, provided some of the highlights with ‘My Silver Lining’, ‘Waitress Song’ and ‘Cedar Lane’ standing out in particular. As they regularly do they chose Ghost Town to sing a cappella at the front of the stage, quietly accompanied by the audience. Those moments where the music was stripped back, shorn of the big modern indie rhythms and those communal Of Monsters and Men-styled choruses, proved to be the most rewarding. Their strength is their voices and when given the chance their harmonies wove together beautifully, whether it was their own songs or covers of Dylan’s ‘One More Cup of Coffee’ or Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘America’.
The pair were in good spirits, playing up to their shared sibling humour which drew the audience into the performance. Though occasionally touching on dark subject matter this was a show that entertained more than it tugged at hearts via emotional reach. The stage glittered, hair was flung about and the songs were played with precision leaving everyone happy as they headed for the exits with the echo of ‘Emmylou’ ringing in their ears.
this review was first published in The Music