On a Wednesday night before a looming snowstorm, many acts would expect fewer faces in the crowd. However, Irish act Kodaline brought the fans out in droves, with a sold out Webster Hall packed as full—and as enthusiastically—as I have ever witnessed.
Opener L.P. warmed up the crowd quickly with her pop rock style that channeled Tegan and Sara as much as Mick Jagger. Perhaps some of her confidence came from returning to her hometown of New York, but L.P. worked the stage like she was born to swagger and belt out her tunes without missing a note. If there is anyone who can look cool while playing a ukulele, it’s L.P. Combining powerful vocals with stripped back melody, she has a style that deserves far more attention.
When Kodaline took to the stage, I noticed something rare at concerts: humility and gratitude. The members of the band—Steve Garrigan, Mark Prendergast, Jay Boland and Vinny May—seemed genuinely delighted to fill the room in New York. The Irish foursome came to have fun and delight the audience, and they accomplished both with flying colors.
Part of what makes Kodaline so attractive as a band is that many of the songs from their debut album In a Perfect World feature soaring vocals and uplifting music. Even the tracks with sadder tones, such as the heartbreak lament “All I Want,” are whipped up into a unifying energy by the band and the audience both. There is little more surreal than when a venue is filled with people singing the same song loudly and shamelessly. During this show, such singalongs formed spontaneously, leaving singer Garrigan to step away from the microphone and smile as the fans stole some of his lines.
Sometimes when music has that polished quality, live shows can feel a bit formulaic. Not so with Kodaline. The band members are precise in their talent and delivery, but the highlight of the show was when they took to the front of the stage and asked the audience for “clicks” (or, to us Americans, finger snaps). Armed with only Prendergast on guitar, the foursome belted out the Sam Cooke classic “Bring It on Home to Me” as best they could over the enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. If Kodaline came across as a bit shy and surprised by their success, by the time they played this song without amplification, it was apparent that they are confident in their appeal and staying power. This band may be on the rise in America, but in New York, they have already arrived.