Kodaline at Manchester Apollo review

Henry Lewis sheds light on Kodaline's performance for the Manchester leg of their tour.

Ben Smith

Last updated: 7th Dec 2015.
Originally published: 6th Dec 2015

Image: Kodaline

The influence of Manchester’s Xfm was immense before its closure and subsequent conversion to the national Radio X. Its DJs were renowned through the city and it had become a major part of the Mancunian identity.

Xfm was also excellent in giving new bands the exposure they craved through their “Great Xpecations” feature that ran throughout January each year.

Through this, they would hype up a handful of new indie acts to look forward to over the next 12 months, with many going on to achieve decent levels of success.

Amongst the likes of Haim and Tom Odell, 2013’s picks also included Kodaline - a four piece from Ireland. By the end of the year they had been invited to play Xfm’s Winter Wonderland, a glitzy end of year bash at the Manchester Apollo.

It would have been the perfect end to the band’s breakthrough year but they were forced to cancel just the night before. Almost two years later they returned to a bustling Apollo in fine voice and no sign of the throat illness that had blighted singer Steve Garrigan that fateful night.

With the enormity of the vocals in most of the band’s songs, you had to be impressed with Garrigan’s performance throughout the entire evening.

After the opening encounters had given us a preview of the raucous folk pop on which Kodaline have cut their teeth, ballad 'One Day' showed the strength of the lead singer’s voice.

From start to finish he was keen to involve a responsive audience who let go of screams with every mention of the word “Manchester”. It was perhaps a surprise to hear ‘High Hopes’ nestled in the middle of the set list given its popularity.

In saying that, Kodaline have come a long way since 2013. With two albums and a host of charting singles, the four piece have a serious following these days and this was shown by an almost fit to burst Manchester Apollo.

As a result of that, things were rather impressive onstage too. Eight TV screens hung above the musicians as strobes glared around them; you could easily have been mistaken into thinking you’d walked into a U2 gig.

As couples escaped the cold and cuddled up to one another you needed no reminding that this gig was perfect for them. Fitting then when Steve Garrigan stood alone onstage to play ‘The One’, a poignant song written as a wedding gift to a friend named Phil.

‘Brand New Day’ was by no means a Gogglebox gimmick with its childlike xylophone led chorus, it was in fact a reminder of the wide spread appeal Kodaline have gained.

In many ways they could give the newly electric Mumford and Sons some pointers on how to maintain the folky quirks they’re famed for whilst hammering an electric guitar.

Whilst that may seem ridiculous given the previous success of Marcus Mumford’s collective, there is a lesson to be learnt from Kodaline as far as electric folk pop is concerned.

A perfect example of this came in the form of ‘Love Like This' , a blaring, harmonica led knees up that is guaranteed air time and, of course, endless acapella renditions live.

The Irish four piece are completely true to their genre of music and the imagery of the four of them stood playing around a fire was strengthened as the band faced the drummer for final song 'All I Want'.

It was this final rendition that showed how much Kodaline mean to people. The opportunity to sing along was not avoided and the entire crowd were on their feet by the time the song hit its peak.

It was an emotionally charged ending and the finest example of the band's catalogue of music. Outside, fingers and toes were made cold by the December chill but Kodaline’s triumphant return to the Apollo warmed the cockles of your heart if nothing else.

Read: Everything Everything at Manchester Apollo review