State must admit to getting a bit of a shock when we noticed the calibre of support act CODES are bringing in these days. It’s a sure sign of their progress that the Dubliners can draw in a festival favorite like The Delays as their underlings, even if it is on their home patch, and it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed: The Academy fills early to watch the Southampton lads throw shapes and bounce relentlessly to their infectious brand of vaguely electro-influenced pop-rock.
You could argue that The Delays’ best days might be behind them, but you certainly wouldn’t base your case on lead singer Greg Gilbert. The vocalist is the key element in the band’s success, with playful, high-pitched vocals and an on-stage persona that revolves around an impressive capacity to leap around between singing lines. He’s backed up by competent backing vocalists either side of him, too, and a catchy array of original, hip-swinging indie. Favorites from 2004 album Faded Seaside Glamour get the crowd at least a little riled up (the subtle edginess of -Long Time Coming’ goes down particularly well), but generally speaking The Delays get a disappointing reception for a vibrant, animated set.
CODES, on the other hand, need little introduction, and are slowly but surely starting to justify those lofty Muse comparisons. Tonight they open with a striking, Bellamy-esque instrumental track, and while they fall some way short of the Devon band’s operatic melodrama, we are quickly treated to a demonstration on where such comparisons stem from. CODES, clearly, are a growing musical tour de force. Tracks like ‘Cities’ and ‘Magnetic North’ are confident and polished, like a catchy, experimental Snow Patrol effort, and while CODES still strut about the stage with a sense of wonder at their reception, their live show is inarguably flashy and fine-tuned. Spattering the set with a selection of new tracks, both confidence and witty on-stage banter have crept into the Dubliners live show. Though their music is undeniably mainstream, the accessibility does no harm at all, especially when combined with such lofty musicianship.
The only hint of a break in the uber-cool faÃ§ade tonight is front man Darragh’s continuous rebuttoning of his shirt (an act that doesn’t go unnoticed by a number of female audience members). Tonight’s light show is mesmerising, adding an almost hypnotic element to the performance, while a tight sound and confident stage presence help push CODES live show leagues above their debut album. Darragh’s leap from the stage to play the last few chords of -Four Winters’ before sprinting off through an enraptured crowd would have seemed an overreaction if you’d warned us of it in advance. Tonight, though, CODES justify every ounce of warm enthusiasm they whip up.
Photos by Kieran Frost.