To see all of the photos from the show, visit Ear Nuggets on Facebook here, or click on any image in the article.

© 2015 Conor Clancy for Ear Nuggets

I wouldn’t refer to myself as the best Irishman.  Corned beef grosses me out, I don’t particularly enjoy Celtic music and I had to force myself to acquire a taste for Jameson.  Naturally, I hadn’t heard of Ireland-based Kodaline before last month-–when my good friend Tori told me she had bought a ticket for their TLA show.  It’s fitting that Kodaline (and support act Gavin James, also from Dublin) hit the road on the “Ones to Watch” tour: right after I agreed to check them out, more of my friends began posting Kodaline’s music to Facebook.  After experiencing both acts live, I can also urge you folks to “watch” for them.

Tuesday evening started with 22 year-old singer-songwriter Gavin James, who walked onto the stage holding only a guitar.  No frills, no fancy lights–he didn’t need anything else.  Once he opened his mouth to sing, it was obvious why. After only his first song, he had won the audience over.  James is currently supporting his latest EP, “The Book of Love” and has already received Ireland’s Choice Music Prize Award for “Song of the Year” (the Irish version of the Mercury Prize).  Watching his performance I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Ed Sheeran, an artist whom I later found out Gavin James will be supporting come July.  While the two men have their similarities, James would be the “underground” Ed Sheeran.  Mr. James brings just the right amount of grit to outweigh Sheeran’s bubblegum pop image.  It’s no surprise that he began learning guitar playing covers of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin in his family’s garage.  His Classic Rock background is evident in his guitar playing, and I have no doubt that we will see more from James in the future.

Kodaline has some dedicated fans.  I was shocked at the sight of a small group of fans lined up along South Street prior to doors open, undoubtedly hoping to secure a coveted position at the barricade.  The fact that Kodaline are still fairly unknown in America did not deter these hardcore supporters.  A good portion of Kodaline’s current audience are younger; anywhere from around fourteen to their early twenties.  I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the first “real” concert for some (An aside: does anyone remember their first “real” concert?  For instance, I don’t count seeing Britney Spears from the rafters at Jones Beach in 2000 a “real” experience.  That would go to No Doubt at the Roseland Ballroom in 2002.  Tell us what yours was in the comments).

Seeing an artist live can make or break it for me-–if an artist isn’t great live, I find my interest wanes.  Kodaline hit the stage and proved that not only are they as good as they sound recorded, but they may even be better.  The foursome jumped right into the track “Ready” from their current release Coming Up For Air.  Lead vocalist Steve Garrigan’s voice was crystal-clear throughout the entire performance… like… seriously crystal-clear.  All four band members have incredible stage presence: even Vinny May behind the drum set.  Mid-way through the set, lead guitarist Mark Prendergast faced instrument issues with his electric guitar.  The group paused for a bit to interact with the audience, which resulted in the entire band (and venue) singing “Happy Birthday” to three audience members (so Happy Birthday again Mallory, Leah and Maria).

After the brief diversion, the guitar issue still hadn’t been remedied.  Kodaline switched up the setlist (with Prendergast sliding to keyboards) and treated their fans to a couple of songs, one of which was performed live for the first time that night.  Fans of Kodaline were on call to help if Garrigan slipped on lyrics, but he never needed the help.  All of the four men on stage were ready for the unexpected, a pressure that even the biggest pop stars can falter under.  When Prendergast was finally presented with his fixed guitar (met by cheers from the audience), the band continued their set as planned.  The last song in the encore was their most well-known, 2012’s “All I Want.”  Kodaline invited support act Gavin James to the stage to share vocal duties with Steve Garrigan.  The two vocalists were no match for the entire audience, who sang the song back to the stage (in perfect pitch, too).

Kodaline continues their tour of North America with Gavin James through 5/19.  For more information visit their website, Facebook and/or Twitter. For more info on Gavin James check out his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Written by Conor

Photojournalist based in Philadelphia. Occasional writer. Always wondering what became of Luke Skywalker's X-Wing after he arrived at Cloud City.

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