Gig review: Kodaline @ Manchester Academy

For anyone who has seen Kodaline’s stunningly beautiful video for All I Want will know they are a band with huge potential.

When the song comes it’s played to perfection; an aching, desperate plea to a lost love that leaves the crowd in raptures.

Knowing it’s the Ace in their pack, the track is saved for the grand finale at the end of the encore.

The downside to this is it has taken an hour and a half of U2 and Coldplay inspired Radio Two friendly rock music to get there.

Kodaline play their album and you can’t fault the way they do that, but shouldn’t live music be about something more, a connection between audience and artist?

Lead singer Steve Garrigan’s stage patter comes straight from the ‘How To Play To Big Audiences’ rule book.

Banter with the crowd never gets beyond ‘you alright?’, ‘everybody alright?’, ‘alright at the back?’, and numerous shouts of ‘Manchester!’.

Despite this, the audience laps it up and every shout of their hometown’s name is met with adoring cheers.

There is a brief moment when they threaten something different; Garrigan approaches the mic, asks ‘did you have a good Paddy’s day?’, and breaks into Dirty Old Town on the harmonica.

It’s short-lived however, and just as the audience are starting to sing along he flashes his boy band smile and breaks into Love Like This.

Nevertheless, the last 12 months have been huge for Kodaline.

Following three successful EP’s, debut album A Perfect World peaked at number three in the UK charts.

This was followed by numerous festival appearances last summer and an American tour at the start of this year.

Garrigan acknowledges that just a year ago they played The Night And Day Café in Manchester and when you consider this meteoric rise, it’s maybe understandable why the stage performance feels slightly scripted and the banter a little generic.

There are certainly some good moments though.

The slide riff on Brand New Day is incredibly infectious and Lose Your Mind see’s guitarist Mark Prendergast extend the U2 comparison further with some Edge style effects laden guitar.

The encore actually see’s the band break out from the confines of the album and it’s almost like a weight lifted from their shoulders.

They arrive back on stage with a cover of LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends, dedicated to a friend who passed away, and follow this with The Answer.

It’s a track from the High Hopes EP and a huge fan favourite.

As All I Want closes the show, it’s clear that this is a band that has hidden depths beyond the crowd pleasing, sing along choruses. 

We’ve already got U2 and Coldplay and, as Kodaline continue to learn their trade, let’s hope they can build on this to forge an identity of their own.

Image courtesy of Paul Keeling (Paul Keeling Photography), via Flickr, with thanks

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