Last Saturday, I went to see Irish-rock band Kodaline at The Prince Bandroom. I felt very excited queuing up outside the venue of the standing-room show and almost burst with excitement when I scored a place at the front of the stage.
While waiting for the band to jump out on stage, Kodaline fans swarmed around me, shoulder to shoulder. We were all here to see one band, to enjoy the same songs. It got me thinking: why do we like music so much? So many of us listen to music in the car. When we study. When we’re sitting at home.
We listen to music to relax and de-stress. We might have had a tough day at work or school and unwind with songs that are music to our ears the minute we get home. In this sense, music can be a temporary distraction from the trials and tribulations of reality, taking us to a happier place for a moment.
When Kodaline kicked off their show at 9.45pm with the fast-paced After the Fall and One Day, the 900-packed-to-capacity crowd sang along, word for word. Including me. I couldn’t hear my voice and I don’t think anyone else could hear theirs either. We were there to sing, lap up the songs and enjoy the band’s live performance. Nothing else.
A lot of the time we’re captivated by music as an art form, an art form worth appreciating. Not all of us can pen lyrics or play an instrument, let alone sing in tune. It’s no wonder we find some pieces of music so stunning – haunting harmonies we can only admire and dream of playing on guitar for adoring crowds in our sleep. My eyes barely left lead singer Steve Garrigan as he did a double act of blowing into a harmonica and stroking the mandolin for the country-sounding Love Like This. Triple if you count singing. Piercing wolf whistles were aplenty around the room when he hit the high notes in slow-jam High Hopes.
Then there are the healing effects of music which we we often find comfort in. Music is frequently used as part of therapy. Love sick or heartbroken, there’s always a sad song we can relate and cry along to. As the Irish lads began the somber post-breakup ballad Talk on keys, the crowd aptly toned down their screaming and swayed along.
Controversial lyrics aside, every song is open to all kinds of interpretation and we are free to listen and enjoy music however we like. Music is a form of creative expression and there really is no right or wrong way to think about and react to a song. When Kodaline busted out the bass-heavy All Comes Down, I furiously bopped my whole body along to the beat. Glancing to my left, a bunch of Asian girls were doing the complete opposite: standing stoically, gazing up at the band. Either they were “too boring to jump” or that was their way of appreciating live music. Whichever the reason, no one laughed at them. Or at me.
Music is a beautiful thing. A universal language that transcends race and connects us. We don’t need to know much English to enjoy an English song or Korean to groove to a Korean song. Why, we can even mumble wrong lyrics, who cares? The message of a song more often than not strikes a chord with us and our emotions.
At 11pm, Kodaline closed the show with their biggest hit to date, the anguish-filled All I Want. I put away my camera as the first guitar chords of the song rang out. To my surprise, practically everyone at the front of the stage tucked their cameras and phones away too. We sang. We sang so loudly we could barely hear Steve’s voice. When we got to the hymn-sounding bridge part of the tune, he let us finish the song.
I’m sure all of our hearts were beating together as one right then.
When do you listen to music? Do you like going to music concerts?