It’s safe to say that Kodaline are now far from fledgling rock stars. Playing to a capacity crowd at the Marquee in Cork, (and playing to similar numbers the day after in Kilmainham), there is no sign of a sophomore slump from the lads.
Prior to their arrival on stages, relative newbies The Academic perform the undoubted set of their lives. Unrelenting in their delivery, Craig Fitzgerald’s soaring vocals are accompanied by smatterings of percussion. Sonically, they are perfect for the venue – even if the crowd aren’t all too familiar with their material.
“Yis are wild,” singer Fitzgerald deadpans, referring to the modest reactions his charges receive.
The Academic are all about fun, bright songs that are by-the-book. Choruses remain sharp and suitably high-octane throughout, providing something which is delightfully infectious. Different warrants the strong reaction the boys were holding out for all evening, and it’s impressive to see the band remain energetic and enthusiastic from beginning to end.
Predictably enough, Kodaline open with new single Ready, which sees melodic guitar playing and effortless harmonies, before drummer Vinny May sees the song out with thundering beats.
Love Like This is marred by technical problems. “It’s always a shame when something goes wrong on stage,” admits singer Steve Garrigan. They are quick to shake it off though, performing a truly authentic rendition of the track. That being said, the choruses do lose a bit of bite with the lack of electric guitar.
Way Back When gets a raucous crowd response for an album track. Despite the backbone of their songs being acoustic guitar-driven, they cut defiant figures on stage, and their presence is commanding.
Musically, it’s obvious they have progressed as a live act. But the show itself has also come on leaps and bounds. Unclear is paired with swampy lights to match the menacing under-currents the guitars create. Play The Game and Coming Alive also have stadium-esque light shows accompanying their performances.
The contrast between the two albums is especially highlighted in a live setting. For songs like One Day and All Comes Down, the emphasis is on Garrigan as a vocalist – note perfect every time. On Coming Alive, the instrumentation is increasingly experimental, with a frenzied intro of synth and guitar. They strike quite the balance between the old and the new.
“The last time we played in Cork, we played to about six people,” Garrigan tells the 4,000 strong crowd, before sauntering – rather than launching – into Brand New Day.
The older songs still hit home a little bit harder, as gauged by the crowd’s reactions – Big Bad World and In A Perfect World are received warmly. But it’s All I Want that has the potential to make ribbons of the Marquee, as the lads swarm together to create something intimate in a large venue – something which they are now world-renowned for.
Crowd interaction is minimal throughout, which is probably because they’re concentrating on making their biggest Cork show to date their best. It would be hard to say that they didn’t achieve just that. There are lots of factors that make them so enigmatic as a band. There is little bravado to their performances – just good, honest song-writing nd a momentum that never lets up. Never have they seemed more ready for stadium gigs then they do here, triumphant in their success.