A bit of a strange one tonight. Andy had been recommended Kodaline by Fibbers’ promoter, Tim, but neither of us had heard of them before that. Nevertheless, Andy, on the basis of the band’s write-up on the Fibbers website, decided that they appealed and convinced me to go along (as usual, it didn’t take too much to persuade me.) Just before I set off, I watched the video for All I Want on YouTube – a video that had already had well over one million views. Not only that, but a pretty good video for a very good song.
As is usual these days, Andy and I met up for a drink before the gig. Usually on a Thursday, with Andy travelling down from work in Edinburgh, it’s a bit of a rushed affair but this time a chance encounter with Tim as I walked to the pub meant that I knew that the gig wasn’t due to start until eight thirty. So, we had time for more than the usual hasty pint.
When we finally arrived at Fibbers it was a bit of a shock to find that, not only was it already as full as I’ve ever seen the place, but that the usually curtained-off side section had been opened up. (I know that it’s not the first time this section has been opened, but it is the firs time I had seen it so.)
Support tonight came from Luke Sital-Singh, playing in York for the first time. Sadly, we were so far back in the audience that we couldn’t hear much of what was being said between songs. Luke alternated between acoustic and electric guitar and his playing was subtle and understated, while his vocals were both intense and emotive. Although I can’t honestly say that there was anything at all wrong with Luke’s performance, I get the impression that I would have enjoyed it much more if I had been closer to the stage (it goes without saying, away from the chatterers…)
After a quick trip out to get another drink, we returned for Kodaline to find that, if anything, the venue was even fuller – obviously somebody had heard of the band, even if I hadn’t. Despite the crowd, we managed to weave our way closer to the front, although nowhere near as close as we could get on a normal weekday evening. Kodaline, originally called 21 Demands (and, under that name, owners of the first independently-released single to reach number one in the Irish chart) hail from Dublin, comprise of Stephen Garrigan (vocals, keys), Mark Prendergast (guitar, keys), Vinny May Jr. (drums) and Jason Boland (bass) in and are about to release their debut album, In A Perfect World. On stage, the first thing we noticed was that the backing vocals, from Prendergast, May and Boland, came across stronger than the mellow lead vocals of Garrigan and that, initially, the drums and bass were overpowering the guitar. It was during the first song that Garrigan paused to introduce the band (as Kodaline, not the individual members) and it was then that we heard the first lilt of his Irish accent. I can’t help but think that it, and the Dublin base, are what have brought on the comparisons to U2 as I, for one, couldn’t hear too much of it in the music.
Garrigan’s vocals sounded stronger during the second song, at the end of which one audience member standing in front of me was heard to declare the band as “Coldplay wannabes”. The addition of keyboards, first from Prendergast and, later from Garrigan, certainly didn’t detract from that comparison, although I did politely take issue with the guy in question, explaining that Coldplay were one of my favourite bands while, at the same time, not trying to convince him to change his opinion – at the end of the day, we were both there to experience and, hopefully, appreciate live music. Further proof that Kodaline are more popular than I expected came with High Hopes, a song which most of the audience seemed to know and there was a light-hearted moment during the next track when Neil-the-roadie, after kitting Garrigan out with a mandolin, forgot that he also needed a harmonica, for a track that sounded slightly more folky that the alt-rock of the rest of the set. Unfortunately, as is the way of these things, background noise had increased exponentially with the crowd size and, even being closer to the front, it was getting harder to hear what was going on on stage. Something that may have been called The Answer was followed by the announcement, after just forty five minutes, that the next song would be the last. Inevitably, this song turned out to be All I Want, the excellent song which was accompanied by the tear-jerking YouTube video from my earlier viewing. Needless to say the crowd lapped it up.
And that was it, an unusually short set and no sign of an encore. Tonight was the first night of a small UK tour after two nights in the US, just a week ago and three nights in Europe just before that. There is a longer tour planned for March and April and I wonder whether the few dates in February are being used as a warm-up for the main event. In a way I feel a little short-changed by the minimal set (even a second support act might have made a difference) but, at the same time, I’m glad I went along. With the album just around the corner (I will be ordering it) there’s a feeling that Kodaline could be quite big in the near future.