When it comes to Kodaline, we’ve been waiting for a while to throw some kind of obligatory ‘luck of the Irish’ line into the mix. And to be fair, when it comes to the Dublin outfit’s fast-track route to public adoration, there probably has been a fair share of luck involved.
But the thing is, Kodaline do emotion well. Really well. By the end of the night, as the band bowed out to triumphant set closer All I Want, there were more than a few damp eyes in the house – including, rather charmingly, at least one of the band members.
Playing to a packed Dingwalls, tonight was in many ways the end of the first chapter for Kodaline, and the beginning of the next. If we were them, we’d have been pretty choked up too. It was only August last year that the band were nobodies – another name in a long list of rough n’ tumble chaps looking to leave their mark on an industry as fickle as it is enticing. But then the accolades started rolling in – songs cropping up on Grey’s Anatomy, close on two million YouTube views for All I Want.
But it’d be an injustice to put it all down to luck and the chance support of a DJ. No, if one thing’s certain, it’s that Kodaline certainly know their way around a good pop hook. New single High Hopes sees them at their most well-rounded to date, a soaring melody to rival anything their Irish peers The Script could deliver. And with Kodaline, there’s an earnestness to proceedings that serves to mark them out as more than just a slicker take on the Dry The River mould or – if you will – Ed Sheeran in four-piece form.
For starters, there’s versatility. Set opener Lose Your Mind in particular remains a standout; half Achtung Baby era U2, half psychedelic love fest. And then there’s Perfect World, all tender campfire tunery, sugared verses and dreamy harmonies. Love, it’s fair to say, remains a defining theme for Kodaline – rather apt considering tonight’s Valentine’s Day festivities. The front rows consist of some 90% young women, swaying gently, hearts long since given away to the band; Kodaline’s songbook is the eternal love letter every boyfriend wishes they could write.
On record – and even more so performing live – Kodaline are polished, confident, toting a professionalism forever hinting that the next few months hold something ever bigger and better from them. A good job too, as tonight’s set was startlingly short – a sign perhaps that the band are already ready to graduate onward to larger venues. Kodaline’s music, full as it is of ear-friendly hooks, is at its best when it demands terrace-like chants of union from the audience – whether their as-yet unreleased debut LP will deliver on that promise is without doubt, the question being more, how deeply will it cement them in the mainstream?
As for all this talk recently of ‘the return of guitar music’; truth be told, maybe said ‘future’ lies down a far more pop-orientated route. The likes of Kodaline are ready to take up the gauntlet, boasting choruses people can actually remember. In All I Want, the band already have the kind of live favourite most bands would sell their mothers for. If they ensure their album packs at least another two of that calibre on it, their gateway to mainstream success is ensured.
Kodaline’s new single High Hopes is released on 18 March 2013 through B-Unique/RCA, with their debut album In A Perfect World following on 1 April.