When I arrived to the Cohn, the first thing I noticed was the fact that I probably should have brought my walker with me. I quickly felt every bit of my 38+ years. The crowd was flowing and it was primarily female, most of whom appeared to be in the freshman class of 2015. Sure, there was the odd family unit with the youngest member experiencing their first concert. Personally, I could count the number of Kodaline songs I knew on one hand using only fingers. Of the singles, I liked what I heard; however, prior to this evening, the band didn’t really blow the roof off my doors. As hackneyed as the cliché is, I was there to see Good Old War; Kodaline was to be the gravy.
Oh, how things change. When the lights eventually went down shortly after 8pm, Philadelphia’s Good Old War hit the stage looking like they arrived here after making a cameo on It’s Always Sunny… and performed admirably enough. The band was having a great time grooving on stage and they played the prerequisites such as “Amazing Eyes”, “Coney Island” and “Calling Me Names”. The crowd reciprocated appreciatively, and they seemed into the band for the most part as they enjoyed the 45 min set from the comfort of their seats. I enjoyed the band’s Twin Forks-y, indie-folk pop vibe, which at times had shades of Vampire Weekend and Dispatch, however it personally felt a little sleepy for an opening act. I would love to see the band again at the Marquee or Seahorse as it should amplify that energy.
Then after a brief change-over, it was time for the headliners Kodaline. The collective squee that went up when the lads hit the stage was staggering. It was immediately apparent that I was not the band’s target demographic. The predominately female audience leapt to its feet and remained standing through the entire set. It was clear that Kodaline could easily coast on their good looks and charm if they were inclined to do so, but they are more than a superficial assembly-line band, and it would take more than good looks to pack the Cohn on a Wednesday evening. Fortunately these four Irish lads (Steve Garrigan – Vocals, Mark Prendergast – Lead Guitar, Vincent May – Drums and Jason Boland – Bass) share a palpable camaraderie from having grown up together, as they’ve been friends since they were 8. It is that unifying bond which transformed this band into a solid live act. With a front man whose vocal range at times bears similarity to Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams or Chris Martin, this group is more than just another pop-rock band.
Going into the Cohn, I had a rather limited knowledge of the band’s background, and in listening to their albums, I was interested to see how Kodaline’s material translated to a live performance. Beyond the high-level talking points…that the band was touring in support of their sophomore album Coming Up for Air, that they hail from Ireland, and Kodaline is comprised of 4 members…beyond that point my knowledge wanes to almost nil. Needless to say, I was going in pretty much blind, with the expectation bar set low. Even had the bar been set high, Kodaline would have far exceeded those expectations. From their charming banter (and obligatory promise that this won’t be the band’s last performance in Halifax), to the energy this Irish collective brought to their tunes, the band engaged the crowd for the duration of their almost 90 minute set. For a group with only two albums under their belt, the performance felt like that of much more seasoned crew who have toured extensively.
The collective awww that was uttered, when Garrigan told the crowd they were wrapping the show up, pretty much guaranteed an encore. The band returned to perform an acapella rendition of “Everything Works Out In The End” with excellent crowd participation and mobile mood lighting, and then proceeded to close out their set with the lead single from Coming Up For Air, “Honest”. I headed out into the cool evening air with the last few notes of the show wafting in the air. I entered the Cohn a skeptic and left a fan. Well played boys, well played.