City and Colour at First Avenue, 2/4/2012
First Ave., Minneapolis
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Along with the metric system and a alternate spelling of the word "color," Canada brings us the lovely music of City and Colour, taking a detour on their Canadian tour to do a few shows in the States. If the show wasn't sold out at the door, it was pretty close to a sell out crowd at First Ave. on Saturday night.
Releasing his music under the name City and Colour, Dallas Green is the mainstay in the band with revolving members that join him onstage -- a trend amongst more and more artists these days, possibly due to differences within the band or wanting to keep artistic control.
With a 45-minute change between the Low Anthem's set and City and Colour's, the crowd was getting restless, but as soon as the house music was cut off and the projector screen went up, the audience perked up and was ready for the show.
The majority of the set was pulled from 2008's Bring Me Your Love interspersed with pieces from the newly released Little Hell and prior albums, Live and Sometimes. The proceedings opened with "We Found Each Other in the Dark," a soulful song showcasing Dallas' signature voice that has the ability to break your heart while carrying the weight of someone who has lived a hundred years. Although not technically country, City and Colour's music runs along the vein of the country music genre, especially when the band implements the pedal steel guitar in songs like "Sleeping Sickness" and "The Death of Me." Even the lyrics tell sweeping stories as in country songs, along with guitar solos in the bridges.
While City and Colour's recorded pieces are very well-produced, they do not compare to the live show -- particularly the solo pieces performed by Dallas. Even by himself, his voice has the power to carry the songs to every person in the room. Before "Body in a Box," which tells the life and death of a man named Johnny, Dallas asked the crowd -- almost as if in prayer -- to take a minute away from "filming and taking pictures and updating your life on your phone. Sometimes we try so hard to capture a moment that we forget to just experience it."
Many of the band's songs touch on death and mortality in one way or another, but "The Girl" is a pure love song with the lyrics "While I'm off chasing my own dreams, sailing around the world, please know that I'm yours to keep, my beautiful girl." The song "Waiting..." was dedicated to a band "near and dear to our hearts and they are from Minnesota." Duluth, to be exact, and the band is Low. The last part of the regular set ended with the energetic "Fragile Bird," which was preempted with Dallas asking if anyone brought their dancing shoes, and segueing into a slower "Sorrowing Man."
Coming back for an encore, Dallas played "Coming Home" and dedicated it to a family in the audience that was going through a tough time. Despite not knowing the family and what they were going through, many can draw empathy and comfort from Green's words: "I never thought you could leave me, I figured I was the one, but I understand your sadness so I guess I should hold my tongue, but I'm comin' home..."
Critic's bias: I was blown away by City and Colour, while The Low Anthem reminded me of a below average Bob Dylan counterfeit.
The crowd: Mostly younger kids in their late teens and early twenties that grew up listening to Dallas Green.
Overheard in the crowd: "I used to listen to this album for hours and hours in the cemetery."
Random notebook dump: Dallas Green reminded me of a young Eric Clapton -- it could possibly be from the angle on where I was in the room.
We Found Each Other in the Dark
The Death of Me
The Grand Optimist
As Much as I Ever Could
Day Old Hate
Body in a Box
What Makes a Man
Sometimes (I Wish)