I’ve only ever been in the Barrowlands once in my life and instantly fell in love. It’s perfection when it comes to venues with just enough space to squeeze in a comfortable number of people, allowing the musicians to see their fans, and the acoustics are fantastic. It was here that I went to see one of my favourite folk bands, First Aid Kit.
After standing in the crisp autumn air for 45 minutes we finally made it inside and secured a place at the front, right at the barriers, on the left hand side. Perfect views. I watched as the camera men paced around below the stage trying to decide on the best shots, as the sound guy tested guitars and mics above, and felt the excitement bubbling up inside me. The bands would be on soon.
Three sisters walked on stage. I’d listened to some of their songs before coming here but deliberately didn’t listen to much as I wanted a surprise. I definitely got one. I was shocked and mesmerised by their live performances. Their voices fit together in perfect unison creating haunting harmonies that tugged at the heartstrings. Instantly, I was enthralled by their music. If sirens are real then they are The Staves. I wanted more as I could’ve listened to them all night. Not just their songs but their ‘patter’ too as their Alan Partridge jokes and Belladrum pissing stories had me in fits. I’ll definitely be buying tickets to see them again in the future especially if they sing ‘Tired as Fuck’ because that’s just wonderful.
Next we waited eagerly for the main event, on our tip toes, and trying to peek inside rooms to see if there were any sign of the acts. All I could see was some box with ‘First Aid Kit’ emblazoned across the side and a shitload of instruments. We didn’t wait long before the sisters stepped out brandishing their guitars and breaking into ‘Distant Star’ from their ‘Ruins’ album while moving with purpose across the stage. The lights, the music, the lyrics all mixed together in some awe-inspiring dream that seemed to seep into the soul. They love what they do and it was plain to see. That raw, demanding energy left me transfixed, unable to peel my eyes from the stage, as I stood there taking it all in. I couldn’t even sing along at first because I was too amazed to move.
It then came to the moment where they burst into rage-fuelled fury singing ‘You are the Problem Here’ and you could feel every woman in the room’s spirits lift as they danced angrily along to this fiery anthem. This vengeful rebuke calls for men who are accused of sexual violence to take responsibility for their disgusting actions and accept the consequences. Klara’s message after the song was filled with passionate intensity, rousing the crowd, and rallying support for victims of abuse. In days like these, the Me Too movement is important. We should be no longer be silent and we should support each other as women. Wow, things just got powerful.
Another song that stood out to me was ‘Ugly’ from their ‘Tender Offerings’ EP. It brings up all these issues that surround body dysmorphia, people pleasing, and how we are viewed by other people. We become so wrapped up in others that we lose track of ourselves. It’s that grinding weight of expectations and striving towards perfect ideals that makes us lose sight of our true potential. This song struck a chord with me as there was a genuine heartfelt message there that was saying ‘It’s okay. Just you be you’. I’ve thought I was ugly for years as I’m a bit chunkier than I’d like to be, a self-confessed people-pleaser, and a lonely girl wanting friends but never accepting herself for who she is. I’m trying to break that mindset and reignite my creativity and hearing those lyrics almost made me cry. I locked eyes with Klara at that moment and had to shake the tears away as the song hit so close to home. Thankfully, the next song was ‘Hem of her Dress’ and I’d replaced those tears with sheer joy as I bounced around at the front singing way too loud (I’m convinced they heard me because I got a laugh and a nod), while grinning from ear to ear. I wonder if they’ll remember the overly excited blonde girl with the butterfly blouse giving it laldy to those lyrics? Probably not but I’ll remain hopeful. Those girls definitely know how to work a crowd. The audience participation was incredible to experience as everyone’s voices joined in raucous rabble of La-da-da-da-da-da’s that would be right at home at a drunken wedding reception. There was so much energy here as the place erupted in a chorus of clapping hands and cheers that ricocheted off every wall in the room.
Now there were five sisters on stage like some feminine supergroup ready to wow the crowds. I knew a cover was coming but I didn’t know what to expect and was blown away when the girls began to sing, Johanna helped along by a little lyric-filled mermaid notebook, as they burst into their own version of Lykke Lyi’s ‘Hard Rain’. I’d never heard the song before but I was more than impressed and hope they’ll release this so that I can listen to it over and over again. They need to release a cover album at some point because every single one that I’ve heard has been sensational. Girls, if you can make Paul Simon cry by perfectly singing ‘America’, then imagine what I’m like. Floods.
After a few more of their album favourites they ended the night with the uplifting ‘Silver Linings’ which has always had a special place in my heart. I suffer episodes of depression and anxiety but every time I hear this song it gives me hope. Even if there are bad times that feel like they are never ending, there are good times too. There is no light without darkness. No ying without yang. These forces together can create something beautiful and if we ‘keep on keeping on’ then we’ll see that there are silver linings everywhere, especially for us creatives.
If I could rewind my night I’d do it countless times. I didn’t want this emotional rollercoaster to end. It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever experienced and I’ve seen Nick Cave and Bruce Springsteen master their respective stages. There’s something about these sisters that’s extra special, an honesty and genuineness that pours out through their lyrics, and captures all of our hearts. Please come back to Glasgow soon so that we can have too much whisky, too much honey, and too much wine. Drinks are on me.