City and Colour Live

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I used to refer to Dallas Green as kind of whiny. His music always seemed so full of angst and kind of sad – as if he constantly had a broken heart. After seeing him and his all-star band, City and Colour, on the Halifax Waterfront during Jazz Fest though, my opinion has changed…slightly.

Dallas Green is the epitome of angst. I still think he might be sad all of the time. But that doesn’t stop him from singing his heart out. Joined on stage by Raconteurs/Dead Weather bassist Jack Lawrence and Constantine’s drummer Doug MacGregor, City and Colour opened the show with Woman, followed by Northern Blues. Although lovely and nearly flawless, these two languid openers didn’t stand up to the chatty crowd and the cool, breezy air.

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It wasn’t until the band kicked into Wasted Love that the audience really responded, singing along and clapping throughout the song’s entirety. The ladies in the crowd swooned when Lover Come Back followed. It’s admittedly hard not to be swept away by the sweetness and honesty that is Dallas Green’s voice.

The highlight of the show, as it is in many shows, was the encore. The generously tattooed and bluesy lead performed a solo acoustic version of The Tragically Hip’s Bobcaygeon. Given the recent news about Canada’s treasured Gord Downie being terminally ill, the was one of the most perfect ways to close the show. I’m pretty confident I wasn’t the only one with teary eyes.

Photo: Dustin Rabin Photography

Photo: Dustin Rabin Photography

Following the beautiful tribute was Comin’ Home, which got the biggest crowd reaction by far. The audience erupted with applause and love when Green sang the lyrics, “I’ve been through Nova Scotia, Sydney to Halifax. I never take any pictures, ‘cause I know I’ll just be right back.” Nothing gets a crowd going more than the mention of their home. 

Though  I did enjoy the set the boys put on, I’d love to see them in a smaller venue where the intimacy can really be felt. Green is pretty introverted and the stage is pretty bare, which can be both applauded and criticized. One could say that it allows the entire show to be about just the music. There are no theatrics, personalities or chatter to distract from the purity of the music. But I suppose you could criticize the band for not putting on more of a “show.” I just don’t believe that’s what City and Colour set out to do. I think they want to get on stage and play from their hearts.

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