Friday 13 March 2015

Live Review: Kodaline, Bristol O2 Academy 12/03/2015

Driving to Bristol in what was quite possible the most apocalyptic rain I've seen (with a broken wiper blade to only mock me further) might NOT have been my wisest decision, but then nothing was really going to prevent me reaching Bristol's O2 Academy ahead of Kodaline's sold out performance.

In the twelve plus months since the Irish lads last graced the stage here, a whole lot's happened, least to mention a blistering summer of high-billed festival slots, relentless touring across the globe and the release of their second studio album 'Coming Up For Air' - of which reached number 4 in the UK charts. It's with no doubt then to say the atmosphere inside was of its highest degree. With the show selling out months in advance people had been waiting a long time for this night and it was definitely going to be one to remember.

Arriving a little later than I'd planned on, I sadly missed the first opening act, White Chalk, but it wasn't long before London based quintet The Mispers had taken up place on stage ready to unleash their energising sounds to the Bristol audience. Treading the fine-line between folk and experimental, what's presented on record only became even more personified in real life as the band's animated melodies radiated around the room. Transposing from the studio to live environment can sometimes be a difficult task to master but there seemed to be no trouble here as Jack Balfour Scott's unique vocal delivery transfixed the crowd in to amazement. Through their ambitious pop sensibilities and thrilling all-out mayhem The Mispers delivered on a wondrous performance showcasing their fine back-catalogue of rip-roaring singles to gorgeous effect. Bundling their violin soaked rhythms, pounding percussion and high-strung guitars in to a resplendent offering, the band truly demonstrated their musicianship not putting a foot wrong once, the crowd left more amped than ever for the evening's headline act.

Sadly the energy didn't stay with me for too long with what felt like the longest half hour of my life, not helped by the dreary choice of interval music - I can't help but feel something a little more upbeat might have whiled away the time quicker. After much anticipation though, the lights finally dimmed and with the flick of a switch all was forgotten as the band slinked on to the stage. Kicking off with Ready, their perfected jaunty basslines and piercingly sharp guitars quickly intensified to match Steve Garrigan's pitch perfect vocals.

Having established themselves as a live band over the years it's clear to see why they've received so much recognition as the crowd readily lapped up the energy on stage. Following a one-two singalong with debut album In A Perfect World's Love Like This and Way Back When, the band sprawled in to a gorgeous rendition of Unclear. On record, its spaciousness filled with choir-esque backing vocals but live its stripped back feel only heightened its tunnelling power.

There's no denying Kodaline's impressive skills for crafting some of the catchiest melodies around and as the sweeping nuances of One Day echoed around the room, the tone for the rest of the evening was most certainly set with mass audience participation. With two thoroughbred albums to chose from, the set list was made up of a broad selection of both seeming to be a perfect choice as older tracks were met with great enthusiasm. It's definitely no secret that passion and heartfelt emotion have become pretty indigenous to their sound now but witnessing their flourishing performance in the flesh is about as real as it gets - the smiles beaming from their faces said it all. 

Continually progressing, a new album brought with it new sounds and with the crowd eager for more no time seemed like a better opportunity to unleash the convulsive Play the Game. Probably their heaviest track to date it didn't take much for everyone to become quickly whipped in to a frenzy amongst its chest pounding guitars and epilepsy induced backdrop of flashing lights. Back on the mandolin for Brand New Day Garrigan equally had fans on high alert as they swooned amongst the band's rousing display of plinky melodies and jangly basslines - their playing abilities second to none.

Sadly there was to be no balcony encore like last year but with an extended version of All I Want who could argue a more fitting end to a mesmeric stadium-rocking display of pop perfection. Exiting on to the streets of Bristol, my ears ringing with the sound of joy rather than rain from the night's earlier journey, I think it's safe to say there really isn't anyone more deserving of the success they've received thus far than Kodaline. Pro-life tip; don't pass up an opportunity to see these guys live.

The band continue their tour at the following dates:

Sat 14th BIRMINGHAM, Institute  

Sun 15th LEEDS, Academy 
Mon 16th NEWCASTLE, Academy


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