First Aid Kit light up Birmingham’s O2 Academy

The Söderberg sisters soar on the wings of their new sound as First Aid Kit start their Palomino party

“It’s Saturday night Birmingham! Time to party… with our… soft folk songs!”, Johanna Söderberg is joking, but only sort of. An hour later, sister Klara is playing guitar on her back, they’ve both had an outfit change, and they’re dancing through a spray of confetti canons. 

First Aid Kit have been a mainstay of British festivals for the last 10 years, but if you’ve ever seen them harmonising to a sunset in a field somewhere in Suffolk, the electricity ringing off the walls in Birmingham’s O2 Academy might come as a surprise. You can thank Palomino. The band’s fifth album arrived last month heralding a new sound for the Söderbergs – punchier, poppier and more uplifting than anything they’d ever put out. Where 2018’s Ruins found First Aid Kit at peak melancholy, Palomino saw them hitting back with hope.

First Aid Kit live O2 Academy Birmingham 3/12/22. Out of my head

Opening the show with the end of the album, First Aid Kit fill their 2022 set with new music (only skipping four tracks throughout), letting the new sound ride perfectly next to their earlier anthems. Softer cuts like ‘Fallen Snow’ and ‘The Last One’ drift effortlessly into the likes of ‘Stay Gold’ and ‘Rebel Heart’. But it’s the older tracks the now feel the most transformed – crowd favourites like ‘The Lion’s Roar’, ‘Emmylou’ and ‘Fireworks’ lifted to the synth-pop heights of biggest new album opener, ‘Out Of My Head’.   

Dialling things back for a tender tribute to Christine McVie, Johanna and Klara share the same microphone for a hushed acoustic cover of ‘Songbird’. As the rest of the band step to the front (carrying accordions and marching drums) for ‘Hem Of Her Dress’, the nods to Fleetwood Mac feel even more profound – carried back into the bloodstream of First Aid Kit as they round out the set with stadium-sized alt-country rock.

Returning from the encore with wings, sequins and confetti for ‘Out Of My Head’, ‘Master Pretender’ and ‘My Silver Lining’ (complete with sing-a-long chorus), Johanna and Klara look like they’re headlining their own festival. Letting their new sound carry them a long way from the high lows they mastered over their first four albums, Palomino sees them taking the stage with a new kind of confidence. They might be playing soft folk songs, but First Aid Kit are here to party.   

First Aid Kit are playing London’s Eventim Apollo on 8-9 December, with tickets available here. Read our interview with Johanna and Klara Söderberg here. Palomino is out now.