Having featured Kodaline on A Music Blog, Yea? multiple times over the last year, it was a pleasure catching them in our hometown, Toronto. The Irish quartet (comprised of Stephen Garrigan, Vinny May, Jason Boland, and Mark Prendergast) played The Danforth Music Hall and threw in a few surprises for the crowd — including a great acoustic cover and something they’ve never done before — amounting to (what I think is reasonable to call) a perfect setlist.
Starting the night off with After the Fall, Pray, and Brand New Day, Kodaline instantly captured the audience’s attention as screams echoed through The Danforth. The fourth song to fill their set was my person favourite, Lose Your Mind, Kodaline’s most psychedelic and whimsical track taken from their 2012 release The Kodaline EP. Incorporating some of the heavy breaths and intriguing noises used on the EP, I must give much props to the band for making this song as enjoyable live as on the disc.
Like many of the other songs in their set, frontman Steve Garrigan was barely able to sing the last chorus of Love Like This, for the excited crowd’s voices would come together in a roaring thunder filling the venue, leaving Steve standing by the microphone smiling instead of singing and competing with the fans.
Next up was Way Back When and their debut album In a Perfect World‘s opener One Day. I must mention how much of a delight it was to clearly tell that the audience was aware of the band’s material and knew it inside and out, and this was no exception for the sincere words of One Day. You guessed it — everyone knew this one.
When an artist sits by a piano to play a low-key song of theirs, the crowd typically sits back and lets the artist take the stage. However, this certainly wasn’t the case for Kodaline’s High Hopes. As the lights dimmed down, people sang each word to the song and were captivated by the inspirational significance of the single. As mentioned before, most of the choruses throughout the night the fans sang rather than Steve. While going into the second verse, he threw in a “Toronto!” and so the singing continued, along with the high hopes that anything is possible.
After High Hopes, Kodaline eased into Big Bad World. Then we were told that the band were about to do something they’ve “never done before”. Looking out into the audience, Kodaline said, “there’s a guy in the crowd who has something that he wants to say”. As a young man walks onto the stage and holds the microphone, he asks for his significant other to join him. Shortly after a cute speech and a “yes”, we joined in celebration of a (very) newly engaged couple with champagne and All Comes Down.
With only Steve and Mark taking the stage, they played a special song for the couple which showcased their simple yet very effective harmonies. Once the moment was over, Steve looked at the crowd and said “well, that was pretty cool”. We were left anxiously waiting for an encore.
As Kodaline came back on stage, the audience was encouraged to be silent as all four members of the band stood at the front of the stage, ready to play an acoustic song. Just as it got quiet, Steve asked if everyone can hear him at the back of the venue, and the crowd screamed once again. As everyone settled down, Kodaline started to quietly snap and began their cover of Bring It On Home To Me by Sam Cooke. After the soft harmonies of the first verse and chorus, fans started yelling again, leaving Kodaline looking out to the crowd saying “we’ve got to finish the song!”.
Unfortunately, all we heard was that first verse and chorus due to everyone’s yelling. So the band plugged back in and broke into The Answer and the clear crowd favourite, All I Want.
There’s almost no comparison when looking back at Kodaline’s last Toronto show (in 2013) to the one that took place this February; their harmonies were tighter and, in general, their stage presence looked and felt more comfortable. Between Kodaline’s beautiful arrangements, heart-warming lyricism, and surprises throughout the night, I feel it’s safe to say that the band put on a memorable show for Toronto that night.
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout