Kodaline @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London


Every now and then a world-class band manages to produce one of those spine-tingling moments of musical greatness; those mammoth sounds that trigger the emotional switch in you, when you think to yourself “I’m so glad I’m witnessing this”. These are the performances that you find yourself watching over and over again on YouTube when you get home; it’s what the likes of Coldplay and Snow Patrol do so well, and it’s what Kodaline manage to achieve during the climax of their live set.

Sauntering on stage looking slightly like lost teenagers on their way to the boyband auditions, the foursome waste no time launching straight into “After the Fall”. Their simple set, mundane black outfits, and lack of any added sparkle whatsoever leaves the music with a lot of making up to do. Things begin well with a surprisingly strong vocal from Steve Garrigan, who continues to give his pipes a workout for the entire duration of the 90-minute set.

In fact, all four members have a tough singing job, with the others providing passionate backing vocals and tuneful harmonies throughout. In “Love Like This”, things turn entirely Mumford & Sons, when Garrigan produces a mandolin for a bouncy rendition of the track, fulfilling the Marcus Mumford persona in perfect form.

We see a more personal side to the band during a cheery performance of “Way Back When”, which reminisces of their time growing up together as friends. Garrigan gives us a cheeky giggle as he mumbles “I had my fun” at the end of each chorus. Clearly nervous on stage, it’s refreshing to see the band loosen up during the latter half of the set. They remain charmingly humble throughout, thanking the fans on countless occasions – seemingly still overwhelmed by their newfound success.

During “High Hopes” and “All Comes Down”, Garrigan switches his guitar for the keys, showing off his talent as he warms up with some classical exercises. As the spotlight falls, these songs prove to be two of the most powerful, with the band projecting some of their best vocals. Later, the audience proceeds to take over, singing the chorus in unison as hands sway in the air.

Yet at one point, things border on monotony. Kodaline plough through each track from their debut record, regurgitating every song note for note – even so far as the falsettos. While it’s an impressive skill, it becomes dull. Thankfully, though, the performance is rescued after the interlude, when the foursome appear on the balcony to sing an acoustic folk song unmiked; a heart-warming touch that consequently steals the show.

Closing the set is of course the hit single “All I Want”, which the fans have been waiting for patiently throughout the show’s entirety. Excitement builds with the track, ready for that big climatic moment. Generating an almighty singalong, the audience rises as the band stomps their way through the reprise, producing that beautiful, defining moment of pure brilliance.