Live Review: Kodaline with LP at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 15th February 2014

By on Monday, 17th February 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

If Kodaline had any question on how they’d be received on their second visit to the Nation’s Capital, with Washington having been the first date on their winter 2014 North American tour to have sold out, they needn’t have worried. As the tickets were snapped up quickly for Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia, in October, so were the ones for Saturday night’s show at U Street Music Hall. It’s been a brutally cold winter here, and even though I arrived early with the intention to queue, it became apparent dressed in my cold weather finery as my fingers and lips began to freeze that arriving just 30 minutes before the posted door time might not have been a great idea. To the young ladies who arrived more than 2 hours before doors and without coats while the mercury around -8 degrees C, my hats off to you, that’s some serious Kodaline devotion. Or possible insanity.

The support act for the night was LP, aka Laura Pergolizzi, a hyped up singer/songwriter currently based on Los Angeles. The curly-haired woman must have her own followers, but somehow I missed all the hype. Maybe this is because she’s been too busy cowriting hits for Rihanna, Avril Lavigne and Christina Aguilera. With a recording contract of her own with Warner Brothers as of 2011, perhaps her own luck fame will change soon. As I did research before going to see her, I had read that her music had smacked of a cross between Bob Dylan and Marc Bolan. Because I hadn’t seen any photos, I didn’t realise until I got to the show that LP was, in fact, a woman. Now the high-pitched vocals make more sense!

It was clear from the cheering during her set that she already has a lot of admirers, and probably more so as she dedicated song ‘New Town’ to all her new lovely friends in Washington. But her vocal delivery isn’t for everyone: her voice is warbly and she often employs falsetto. Also, if you’re not a fan of the ukulele (and really, who is, unless you’re a fan of Tiny Tim and Don ‘Tiny Bubbles’ Ho?), you’d probably be stood there scratching your head. A cover of Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ left me and my friend inwardly groaning. Still, if the folky stylings of classic Greenwich village mixed in with rock is your style (see fan favourite ‘Into the Wild’), I’m guessing this would be your thing.

The main event at U Street that night was, of course, Kodaline. They endeared themselves to the crowd by giving credit to their Irish heritage with a toe-tapping instrumental cover of the Pogues’ ‘Dirty Old Town’ mid-set, but what was more startling was how many times in the show singer Steve Garrigan could stop singing altogether and his words would come floating back to him, 400 times louder (400 being the capacity of the hall). The most stunning moment of this nonsinging happened during the start of ‘One Day’, when he turned his mike towards the crowd and didn’t start singing until the first verse was over.

One of Kodaline’s greatest strengths is their ability to write both upbeat and slower, more emotional numbers. ‘After the Fall’ was a good one to begin with, with its sweeping instrumentation, and you might think going into sombre ‘Pray’ (“I drink alone to stop myself from weeping” – eep) directly after would be a misstep. Not with this guys, who deftly handle buoyancy and melancholy equally well. The innocence of the plinky plonky xylophone in ‘Brand New Day’ was well received, as was the psychedelia of ‘Lose Your Mind’ from the band’s self-titled EP, with one girl near breathlessly commenting after, “that’s my favourite song, ever!” The encore, featuring the unreleased but breathtakingly beautiful ‘The Answer’ followed by what appears to be the perpetual Kodaline show closer ‘All I Want’, was peerless. When we first starting writing about Kodaline, the thing that struck me was that they had the artistic vision and certainly the talent to become the Irish Coldplay and be massively successful, meaning that it was only time before they would play stadiums like Chris Martin and co. What crossed my mind last night, nearly a year on since I saw them for the first time at SXSW 2013 and now being surrounded by adoring fans, was that if and when Coldplay ever do decide to return to music, they can expect someone else, these guys, sat on what used to their throne. The gauntlet has been thrown.

After the cut: Kodaline’s set list for the night.

Kodaline’s Set List:
After the Fall
Pray
Brand New Day
Lose Your Mind
Love Like This (prefaced by an instrumental cover of the Pogues’ ‘Dirty Old Town’)
Way Back When
One Day
High Hopes
Big Bad World
Talk
All Comes Down
//
The Answer
All I Want

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