Kodaline: A Journey Into the Soul


Blue Light. Beams of powerful, stunning blue lights. As a regular person, my favourite colour has always been red. As a theatre person however, I am slowly developing a lustful affinity for the colour blue. It can get away with so many different things, and push a performer’s show into the stratosphere. The visual silhouette created in the shadow of a gobo, streaming down a singer’s backside, make a technically adept performance that much more entrancing. This was one of the many dreamscapes I found myself in during the hallucination-inducing performance of Kodaline on Sunday night at the legendary Commodore Ballroom here in Vancouver.

Initially, after the first couple of songs or so, I thought I was at a show where the music leaned more country than rock. Then, with the crowd fawning over Steve Garrigan’s Irish brogue and handsome good looks, this Dublin quartet took us on a journey of love ballads filled with regret, longing and passion. Some tunes could have been off the soundtrack to almost any Hugh Grant movie, while others seemed to play over a post-breakup montage or a police drama that has the detectives looking back on a job well done as they say goodbye to one of their fellow officers. I simultaneously felt alive and incredibly alone. But maybe it was the hunger pangs because that’s when they kicked in me in the gut, with all their might.

One should always try and nosh before a show, even a little bit. Clearly, I either ignored that little bit of profound body awareness, forgot, or was just lazy (my money is on the latter), and went to the show with my gastric juices already having nothing to churn. I suppose it really began to hit me around the fifth song or so. My brain’s response? To focus on the music so intently, it hurt. To border on the verge of a mental breakdown twinned with an ethereal, other-wordly sense of peace-stricken Nirvana. It was both agony and ecstasy.

With the lighting clearly affecting both my mood and the atmosphere of the audience, all at once a sway grabbed hold of the dance-floor crowd. With my eyes closed, I could feel the music inside my skin, even if I was on the verge of collapse. It felt like I was an anonymous stranger in a place much bigger than Vancouver’s almost 90-year old dance hall, which seems appropriate given that at times Kodaline’s music had a tinge of Stadium rock-like flare.

It was serene madness, and I was King George. The harmonic melodies clearly affecting my emotions in ways that were previously untapped or unused to their full potential. And yet, deeper into their musical crevasses I fell. A wave of melancholic happiness overtook me; I was awash in their poetic glory. My head moved back and forth in what was, essentially, a series of involuntary gestures, reaffirming this writer’s fantasies with the Irish countryside and the true romantic nature of his heart. Then Garrigan switched to piano and I nearly died.

Although I could tell that I was still in my body, it felt like I had been transported to another plane of existence, a musical pathway of existentialism that was not wholly unwanted or unpleasing. The wild nature of my drifting mind was calmed, at least for a night, by the soft tinkle of 88 keys and the dulcet tones of three men from Swords and a guy from Celbridge.

I didn’t even notice – or didn’t heed – the gurglings of my digestive tract, as acid presumably started to eat away at my stomach’s wall; I was in a trance, not complaining, and not planning on leaving any time soon. The closing of my eyelids, basking in the quiet cacophonous cheers of the fans, relieved me of my temporary loneliness as my mind delved further into peaceful insanity. My reverie was in full bloom.

I could have remained in such a state for a good few hours – a disappearing food duct notwithstanding – but all good things must come to an end. It wasn’t rah-rah or even hah-hah; it was simple and tenacious and appropriate. And so, no longer having a purpose to remain away from home, I took me and my wavering emotional state to Granville Station and proceeded to think about nothing during my 30-minute journey home. Then I had a bagel with jam and a bowl of vegan chilli and slept for close to 12 hours. A return to normalcy, can’t I have one more night?

Coming Up For Air was released on February 9, 2015 by Sony Music Entertainment

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