Jo Rose

Jo Rose

– THE ALBERT HALL, MANCHESTER –

Tonight, a sold out Albert Hall plays host to Swedish sisters First Aid Kit.  I arrive at the venue shortly before the emergence of support act Jo Rose and already the room is filling up fast.  It’s not long before space becomes very limited.

I enjoyed a support set from Jo Rose across town in Takk only 10 days ago.  Despite tonight being in a far larger venue, he enters stage appearing even more assured than he did then.  He opens his set tonight with ‘Balcony Doors’, the opening track of his debut album ‘Spurs’.  The album features backing vocals from Gabriel Minnikin, Jo Dudderidge of The Travelling Band and Klara Söderberg from tonight’s headliners, but Rose more than holds his own on the stage alone.

His set lasts for eight songs, seven taken from the album and a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Bird On A Wire.  There is quite a bustle in the room as people arrived during the performance, but Rose deals with it well.  My favourite track from his set is his closer ‘Mary’s Dress’.

Following what turns out to be a foolish trip to the bar, on my return to the main room I can’t believe how many people are jammed in.  It is now very difficult to manoeuvre anywhere and I am forced to stay near the back to watch the headline act.

Appearing dressed all in gold, First Aid Kit open their set with ‘Stay Gold’, the title track from their recent third album.  The crowd is immediately sucked in and the sound in the venue is excellent.  They move straight on to second track ‘Blue’ and already there is a fair amount of singing along.

The third track is another big hitter, ‘King Of The World’, but before it can begin Klara addresses the audience.  She reveals that she now lives in Manchester, so it’s good to be home for the night.  The pedal steel guitar played live throughout the night is a real highlight, it’s hard to imagine the tracks without it given how prominently it features.

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

I become concerned when for song ‘Ghost Town’ they announce that they’d like to do it without microphones. I am fairly sure I’ll be unable to hear it from my position near back of the room.  But the crowd settles to a hush much quieter than at any other point in the evening and it all works wonderfully.  Even the singalong becomes more muted, reducing to a low humming throughout the song, which seems to add to it rather well.  The quieter track pays off doubly for the band when the loudest cheer of the night greets their return to amplification too.

A few more songs in, including a well received cover of Jack White’s ‘Love Interruption’, and it’s time for the band to leave stage.  They return for a three song encore, the first two taken from the latest album, ‘A Long Time Ago’ followed by ‘Master Pretender’.  The second of those tracks has caused Stay Gold to come with a parental advisory sticker, “yeah, we’re pretty badass” explains Klara.  Final song of the night is ‘Emmylou’ the band’s most successful single to date.

They leave the stage with Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ playing through the venue’s speakers.  They looked as though they were having fun tonight, and so were the crowd.  It was never going to be anything other than a laid back evening of music, but it delivered exactly what I was hoping for.  The acts and the venue all come out of the night with top marks.

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Adam Smith

There is nothing I'd rather be doing with my evenings than watching excellently crafted live music. In fact, there isn't much I'd rather be doing than watching half-decent live music. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same.