By Cheong Wen Xuan
Four years after their last concert in Singapore in August of 2015, Irish rock band Kodaline finally returned to our sunny shores, to the delight of many old and new fans. The four-member band performed at Zepp@BIGBOX on 5 March as a stop on their world tour in support of their third album, Politics of Living, which was released in September last year
The ambience that night in the small concert hall was cosy, and despite the fact that fans all held free standing tickets, audience members were incredibly gracious. There was a conspicuous lack of shoving, crowding, or toe-stepping – in fact, everyone had a good amount of space to dance to the heavy bass as the lights went down and the band started off with Follow Your Fire, from their new album.
This was followed by Brand New Day, an upbeat and uplifting song, which had the crowd erupting into cheers when the spotlight focused on Vincent May, who took it away with his drum solo. Ready was next, followed by Honest, which lead vocalist Steve Garrigan started off with slow, strong vocals, and nothing else but the accompanying guitar. The crowd sang the lyrics back, and combined with the acoustics of the concert hall, created a wonderful sound that sent chills down my spine.
Next was Brother, another song from their new album. Steve then moved over to the keyboard and flaunted his iconic live vocals during Shed a Tear, by belting out and hitting all the soulful high notes in the bridge, and his vocalisation at the end of the song had the crowd cheering. Head Held High followed, a feel-good song with a cheerful melody, which had the entire crowd enthusiastically singing “la la la”. The stage was aptly lit up for this happy and upbeat song.
This was followed by a crowd favourite – an acoustic performance of The One. Standing alone with just his guitar, Steve shared an anecdote about how this song was originally written as a wedding present written for a close friend, before belting out the first soulful notes of the romantic song. The crowd sang along word for word, and Steve teased the audience by stopping just before the last chorus, joking that “I hope at least one person here knows the chorus”.
Every single person in the crowd then proceeded to sing along at a deafening volume (and remarkably pitch perfect at that!). The moving moment was not lost on Steve, who walked towards the audience, still strumming on the guitar. He joined the crowd in singing the last line, but altered the lyrics – “That’s how I know I love Singapore, that’s how I know you are the one”.
The band then came back onstage for Angel, a poignant and emotional ballad written for a teenage girl who died at their concert in Dublin, their silhouettes backlit against the warm orange glow of the stage lights. This was followed by I Wouldn’t Be, yet another tear-jerking, chill-inducing song that allowed the band to boast their ability at smooth harmonising.
They then picked up the pace with Love Like This, which had the crowd clapping along, and Steve showcased his proficiency at all instruments when he switched over to a banjo. This was followed by One Day, and the energy was fantastic when they moved on to the fast-paced Raging (Kygo cover).
Steve then announced, to disappointed boos from the crowd, that the next song, Love Will Set You Free, would be the last song. It was such a moving, powerful, and beautiful rendition, that I had to put my phone down and let the music wash over me. The crowd hung onto his every note and cheered at every chance, and I’m certain I wasn’t the only person to feel tears well up in my eyes. The crowd kept singing along, refusing to stop even when the music faded. The band then left the stage, to which the crowd immediately shouted relentlessly for an encore.
The band returned to the stage to defeating cheers for their encore numbers, and it’s apparent that they saved the best for last. All I Want was the first of two closing songs, and indeed gave the fans all they wanted. Lights were flashing and the percussion picked up too, with strong beats and bass that had everyone grooving along. The song ended with Steve’s divine vocals belting out impossible notes.
He then made sure to point out that it was their crew member Mike’s birthday, leading the crowd in a happy birthday song. The night ended with one of their most well-loved songs – High Hopes. As Steve began singing the first few lines, the crowd burst out in spontaneous cheers. Fans never sang more loudly than they did for that song, and at the end, their voices rang out to only the kick of the bass drum. It was a beautiful way to end, and the band surely knew how to tease the crowd.
The entire concert lasted just over an hour and a half, but felt like it was over too quickly. The band started strong and ended strong, and introduced us to many of their new songs from their latest album, as well as allowed us to reminisce with the best of their oldies. What more could a concert-goer possibly want?