Four Lads in a Band
Irish alt-rock band Kodaline took to the stage at the Danforth Music Hall for a great night of music
By: Erin Dunlop
There’s nothing more exciting than witnessing the moment a band realizes they’ve made it. I was lucky enough to do just that at the Danforth Music Hall this past Saturday.
When I first heard that Kodaline, an Irish rock band hailing from Dublin, was going to be playing in Toronto, I was thrilled. I was even more excited when the venue switched from the Phoenix Concert Theatre to the Danforth’s own Music Hall. I’d been waiting for an excuse to pay a visit to the historic building and now I had my chance.
I first listened to Kodaline about a year ago after stumbling across the stunning music video for “All I Want” on YouTube. With over 4 million hits, I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed. When the band released their first album, In A Perfect World, in June of 2013, I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough. I listened to the whole thing in one sitting, loving each song more than the last. I was instantly hooked on the band’s sound: If Kodaline had a recipe, it would include a giant helping of Coldplay, a dash of Youth Group, and a generous serving of Keane. Their music is cinematic, soaring, and grand in scale, while still managing to be sweetly honest and genuine.
Seeing the band live, however, proved to be an experience all on its own. Upon arriving at the venue on Saturday night, I was shocked to find myself face-to-face with a lineup that stretched all the way down the Danforth and around the corner onto Broadview Avenue. I had no idea there were so many Kodaline fans in Toronto. I would later find out that the band themselves had no idea, either—but more on that later.
Singer-songwriter LP opened the show, and her impressive vocal acrobatics got the sold out crowd amped for the main act. When Kodaline finally took to the stage about an hour later, the energy in the crowd was contagious. I can’t imagine a better atmosphere for the opening night of Kodaline’s tour. They started off strong with “After the Fall”, one of my favourites from their new album. The song’s undeniably catchy piano hook sounded even better live under the high ceilings of the Music Hall. So did lead singer Steve Garrigan’s voice—he was near flawless. Even after having their album on repeat for months, I’m still impressed by his ability to sound achingly tender yet powerful at the same time. “Love Like This” and “High Hopes” were definite highlights of the night’s set list, the crowd enthusiastically belting out the lyrics throughout each song. It’s easy to see why Kodaline is becoming an increasingly popular go-to band for music supervisors of hit television series like Vampire Diaries and Grey’s Anatomy: each of their songs has its own striking, resonating quality.
The best part of the show, though, wasn’t the music—it was the band’s genuine surprise at their own popularity. When Garrigan sheepishly commanded the crowd to “put their hands up,” he looked unabashedly surprised when they immediately obeyed. Each time the crowd began to sing along within the first few chords of a song, the band looked shocked that so many people had memorized their lyrics.
As a fan, it’s difficult to understand why Kodaline would underestimate their talent, but I suppose that’s part of their charm. When I discovered them, their Facebook bio read: “we’re four lads in a band.” While that may be true, they also happen to be four lads who write and perform beautiful music. If Saturday night’s show is any indication of where Kodaline’s headed, I can’t wait to see what comes next.