Author: Eddie Morbey
The Irish folk-rock group Kodaline formed in March 2007 under the moniker 21 Demands and released an independent single that same year that went to number one, the first independent single so far with that claim in Ireland. Since then, the band dropped that name and re-formed as Kodaline, a move that has not been a mistake.
This current shot at stardom looks meteoric from an Oxford point of view – they were playing a sell-out gig in February this year at the smallish Jericho Tavern in Oxford, and on the 9th of November appeared before a sell-out crowd at the much-larger O2 Academy on Cowley Road.
Kodaline offered two Irish support bands, James Bay was receiving rapturous applause for the end of the set as your reviewer arrived to the gig, thanks to a large local firework display the 10 minute journey took an hour instead – the luck of the Irish was not on our side in terms of traffic.
The second support band Hudson Taylor came on by the time I had found my way to the show – and despite not expecting to enjoy the overly poppy Irish-folk music they gave us, I, like everyone was won over by the end of their set.
Finally, Kodaline appeared onstage to open with ‘After The Fall’ – received rapturously by the audience. The band seemed genuinely amazed at the sell-out crowd as they moved on to ‘Pray’, whose haunting, melodic guitar-led ballad was set to epileptic lighting. ‘Love Like This’ was a welcome return to their Irish folk roots, including all the musical tricks made to make audiences want to do a jig – harmonica, whistle, acoustic guitar – soon the crowd were head-bobbing in Celtic synchronicity.
The instantly recognisable ‘One Day’ saw lead singer Steve Garrigan strap on his guitar again, as Kodaline blitzed through a song so well-known that the audience ended up singing the whole of the last verse.
The end of the main set came with the haunting ballad ‘All Comes Down’, and with that, they were gone. However, they suddenly appeared on the counter of the bar (apparently a party trick of theirs) and with finger-clicking and just an acoustic guitar they pulled off a rousing version of Sam Cooke’s ‘Bring It On Home’.
Back to the stage for the last two numbers, ‘The Answer’ was another folk-rooted ballad, and ‘All I Want’, their first single to be aired on Radio 1, was unsurprisingly the biggest crowd pleaser of the night. Who knows if there’ll be a big enough venue for them next time they’re in town.