Quartet leave room to grow

CATCHY: Swords band Kodaline

Chris Wasser

HALF of their family is on the balcony. In a box to the left of the stage, one lunatic follower thinks he's Bono. "This guy is the dude," notes Steve Garrigan, politely. Perhaps Kodaline's shaggy-haired frontman is more spontaneous than we give him credit for.

Three nights at the Olympia for the Swords quartet says things are going according to plan. An arena show next March at the O2 suggests this is merely a preview.

You're a Star hopefuls-turned-soft-rock behemoths, Kodaline's success can be boiled down to three factors: boyishly-handsome lead singer (two-thirds of the audience are women), catchy tunes and one heck of a marketing push by Sony Music Ireland. Switch on the radio, and you're bound to hear at least one of Garrigan's histrionic tales of woe, heartache and abandonment. Thankfully, the lads stumbled upon some much-needed stage presence since we last saw him. He's broken the shell; all he needs to do now is step out of it.


For a band that has always seemed more interested in playing for themselves, it's good to see Kodaline finally lighting a match under their songs. They're still far too nice for their own good (two words, lads – The Thrills), but at least they're up for this one.

If there's a reason the material begins to sag on occasion, it's because: a) it was never that durable in the first place, and b) Kodaline have only got one album, and they've been touring the bejaysus out of it all year. But you can't deny this group's frivolous way with melody. Sure, the results are lightweight but the intentions are strong. Garrigan is an astonishing vocalist, too. His bandmates come across as ordinary in comparison.

Everything falls into place for the anthemic All Comes Down and chart-favourite High Hopes. They're a tight unit – even the slippery All I Want is a knock-out.

Again, Garrigan's newfound confidence comes as a welcome surprise. He even steps down onto the floor for a second (though he has no idea what to do when he gets there).

During the encore, Kodaline retreat to a box in the wings (not the one with Bono in it) for a lovely acoustic rendition of Sam Cooke's Bring it on Home to Me. It's a clever touch – expand on it and the O2 gig should be interesting.