Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Kodaline + James Bay + Amber Run, O2 Academy, Birmingham 20/03/14

At the Birmingham stop of their biggest tour to date, sold out and with a queue stretching right down the road, anticipation was running high for Kodaline. It’s been nearly a year since the release of debut album In A Perfect World and the band have gone from strength to strength ever since.

Amber Run
Opening the show were Kodaline’s label-mates Amber Run. Unfazed by the already full venue, they performed their indie-folk tunes with a real confidence to an appreciative crowd. Perfect openers for a band like Kodaline; it’ll be interesting to see how their future pans out.

James Bay
Next up was James Bay, who judging by the crowd’s initial reaction already had a fair few fans there. With gorgeous, powerful, James Morrison-esque vocals backed by beautifully melodic love songs, he had the audience captivated right the way through with his charismatic stage presence. With tunes like ‘Move Together’ and ‘If You Ever Want To Be In Love’ he had the whole room swaying and dancing along, though it was his edgier, rock songs where he really came into his own. James Bay is certainly one to watch.

Taking to the stage and launching straight into the energetic ‘After The Fall’, Kodaline had the audience in the palm of their hands right from the start, singing along dutifully to the next few slower songs – which are where frontman Steve Garrigan’s stunningly emotive vocals are best showcased, and the addition of a violinist to the band tonight adds a great depth, especially in dark ballad ‘Pray’. The show picked up tempo again with upbeat pop banger ‘Brand New Day’, and by the time Garrigan dons the ukulele and harmonica for folk hit ‘Love Like This’ the whole venue can’t help but dance.

A highlight of the night came with their biggest single ‘High Hopes’, provoking mass singalong throughout the venue and Chris Martin comparisons aplenty when Garrigan took to the piano for the first time. The encore brings an LCD Soundsystem cover dedicated to a passed away friend of the band, a delicate solo rendition of ‘The Answer’, and a powerful end with popular single ‘All I Want’.

Reminiscing on their year living in Moseley, the band constantly refer to Birmingham as their “home away from home” and seem genuinely pleased to be back – their excitement matched and doubled by that of the audience. The band are tight, and the translation of their songs from studio to live shows is so powerful. Obligatory U2 and Coldplay comparisons aside – Kodaline are carving their own identity now and their fans are loving every band of it. The trademark soaring choruses and majestic hooks are arena-worthy; tonight it doesn’t seem like it will be long before that’s where Kodaline’s shows move.
Photographs by Edward Taylor.