High hopes not dashed as Kodaline wows Waterfront Hall

Joe Nawaz
09 December, 2015 22:59

GANGS of excited teenage girls roam the Waterfront lobby, rounding up stray friends and swiftly necking drinks (soft naturally, mums and dads) before Kodaline hit the stage.

Teen fans may form the bulk of the audience tonight, but there's also a liberal sprinkling of somewhat more mature couples in this sold-out show.

The air is already thick with expectation and roll-on Right Guard before the band appear – but that might be down the rousing turn by support act All Tvvins.

From behind a billowing sheet the murkily silhouetted, “Kods” take shape before it drops away to reveal the boys in all their manicured glory and a light show so dazzling, you probably shouldn’t look directly at it for too long.

"It's amazing to be back in Belfast” shouts Steve Garrigan as the band slide into the agreeable chug of “Ready”. The crowd goes predictably wild. Even in the seated area, audience members are involuntarily engaged in some kind of oddly choreographed chairobics.

"Way Back When", is next - a pleasing Jug Band Travis impersonation about, um, way back when.

Garrigan liberally sprinkles "Belfast" into his chirpy frontman banter, like he’s delighted to have finally remembered the city they’re playing in that night, and with each address, the audience hollers ever louder.

A thousand camera phones go up for "One Day” in impressive, if annoying, unison. It’s nothing though compared to the band’s light show. It’s an undeniably spectacular display of multi-screens , and red, white and green (and hell, even blue) beams dancing about and above the audience.

Kodaline have a simple, effective and affecting formula; they specialise in chunky minor chord balladry and arms (and phones) aloft singalongs. It's easy to see why they've won the hearts of thousands of teenagers and the contracts to soundtrack dozens of US TV shows.

“Lost” is a strong example, and sounds blousy and arena-sized tonight, even in the relatively confined surrounds of the Waterfront.

“High Hopes” becomes another big singalong – and provides another great opportunity for the frontman to show off his knowledge of the town they’re playing in. I counted 4 “Belfast”s in that one, but

Kodaline have learned well from past Irish masters, and they play loud and tight, seamlessly and without flaw, giving the audience exactly what they want. 

In fact, their back catalogue is so expertly replicated here, that it’s kind of like superior karaoke rather than a proper gritty live experience.

But the up-for-it audience don’t give a damn about any of that nonsense. They’re here for Kodaline, and Kodaline is what they get.

“I'm trying to connect with you” sings Steve Garrigan on “Autopilot” (the song of course, not the singer). He needn’t be so worried – mission accomplished.

09 December, 2015 22:59 Music

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