Last fall, in our Best Leonard Cohen Covers Ever article, I wrote, “It is beyond me how no record label has yet turned First Aid Kit’s magisterial 2017 tribute concert into a proper album.” Back when they first performed it, I wrote, “If they had released the soundtrack, this might have been our favorite covers album of 2017.” And pretty much every other time I’ve mentioned it, I’ve expressed my bafflement that this brilliant performance was not released as a proper album.
Well, guess what. It finally, belatedly, is! Who By Fire comes out March 26, containing every song from the concert. Maybe they got sick of my constant yammering about it…
Recorded during two nights at Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theater in 2017 and aired on Swedish TV, the concert mesmerizingly blends his hits and deep cuts with dramatic readings of Cohen’s poetry. The two sisters of First Aid Kit bring along a host of friends as well as a massive orchestra to create what was the greatest of all the tributes that followed Cohen’s passing.
Here’s what they said about why they’re finally releasing it:
We recently listened back to this concert and realized that this was something out of the ordinary for us. It was a challenge to create a performance that wasn’t centered around First Aid Kit songs. It was something we’d never done before, but everything came together so well. Dwelling deeply into Cohen’s world was a pleasure, he was so prolific as both a poet and a songwriter, and everything he ever put out held a very strong standard. He cared immensely for his work. The band, the guest artists, the atmosphere on stage… everyone had a great passion and it felt magical. This is definitely a record that is best enjoyed listening to back-to-back with no interruptions. Allow yourself to just disappear into Cohen’s world for a little while.
We decided not to edit any of the performances. The flaws are part of the live experience. In a time when you sadly can’t go to an actual physical live show, you can listen to this and imagine you were there…
Well, better late than never! The full video of the TV show has been taken off YouTube, presumably in preparation for this official release, but they’ve released the audio of “Suzanne” – a good track, but not the best. That would be “You Want It Darker.” Or “If It Be Your Will.” Or their accompanied recitation of “Tired.” But you’ll have to wait until March 26 for the full thing. (I hope they restore or release the video too, since it looked almost as great as it sounded).
Who by Fire Tracklist:
01. Tired (feat. First Aid Kit, Nina Zanjani, Maia Hansson-Bergqvist)
02. Suzanne (feat. First Aid Kit)
03. Sisters of Mercy (feat. First Aid Kit, Nina Zanjani, Maia Hansson-Bergqvist)
04. Who by Fire / As The Mist Leaves No Scar (feat. First Aid Kit, Nina Zanjani, Maia Hansson-Bergqvist)
05. Twelve O’Clock Chant (feat. First Aid Kit, Nina Zanjani, Maia Hansson-Bergqvist)
06. Everybody Knows (feat. Frida Hyvönen, First Aid Kit)
07. Avalanche (feat. Loney Dear)
08. The Future (feat. Maia Hansson-Bergqvist, First Aid Kit, Nina Zanjani)
09. Chelsea Hotel No.5 (feat. Jesper Lindell, First Aid Kit)
10. You Want It Darker (feat. First Aid Kit, Nina Zanjani, Maia Hansson-Bergqvist)
11. If It Be Your Will (feat. First Aid Kit)
12. The Asthmatic (feat. Nina Zanjani, Maia Hansson-Bergqvist, First Aid Kit)
13. Famous Blue Raincoat / Anthem (feat. Maja Francis, First Aid Kit, Nina Zanjani)
14. Show Me The Place (feat. Jesper Lindell, First Aid Kit)
15. Hallelujah (feat. Annika Norlin, First Aid Kit)
16. Prayer for Messiah (feat. Klara Söderberg)
17. Bird on the Wire (feat. First Aid Kit )
18. Who by Fire (Reprise) / Letter to Marianne (feat. First Aid Kit, Nina Zanjani, Maia Hansson-Bergqvist)
19. So Long Marianne (feat. First Aid Kit, Frida Hyvönen, Loney Dear, Jesper Lindell, Annika Norlin, Maja Francis, Nina Zanjani, Maia Hansson-Bergqvist)
20. You’d Sing Too (feat. Johanna Söderberg)