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City & Colour Live at Camden Roundhouse

October 20, 2011

Photo by Genevieve Lui

City and Colour
Camden Roundhouse

“Because staying on stage and pissing myself would have been much cooler”, concedes Dallas Green sarcastically to the Roundhouse. The man behind City and Colour is recounting an episode in Vancouver some years ago when a critic took exception to his desperate need for a toilet break mid-set. The apparent unprofessionalism was enough to overshadow the whole set and he was panned. Though this anecdote is told after a similar occurrence, it is unlikely anyone in attendance will be going home with a similar opinion. Tonight, this sold out show is full of Dallas disciples.

Stepping out onto the roundhouse stage, the previously solo performer now brings a full band in tow. Dressed ready for a hoedown – with braces, waistcoats, and even a cowboy hat – they serve as a reminder that City and Colour has embraced the country influences that were only hinted at on the first two albums. In fact, new album Little Bird is perhaps a little bloated with country-tinged rock ballads. Yet, they seem to want to bring mid-west America to a cold Tuesday night in Camden and begin with album opener We Found Each Other In The Dark.

The band are obviously well-rehearsed and have honed the new songs to near-record perfection. The Grand Optimist is soaked in reverb and lends well to the echoey Roundhouse. Weightless is played with murky vigour and seems grungier live. Both are highlights from the recent album and transcend well live. The band adds a rocky oomph to the golden oldies too – with The Death of Me and Waiting both getting a shot of adrenalin.

It all works, and yet there is something missing. The band adds pitch perfect harmonies and tight playing, but there is a distance between band and crowd. It’s not until they leave Dallas and his acoustic alone on stage that he really begins to connect with the crowd. His rich and soulful voice becomes clearer. The beauty and fragility in the songs are given space to breathe. And, finally, his easy Canadian charm begins to woo the crowd.

He makes a request for the myriad of hands held aloft – not in devotion but holding smart phones – to be put away for one song. It’s a moment of triumph for gig-goers fed up of having views obstructed just so someone can document it for 27 views on Youtube. He righteously sums it up: “Just because you can record everything, doesn’t mean you need to”. There is a hearty applause from a large proportion of the audience, whilst the rest sheepishly tuck their iPhones back into their pockets, as he launches into Sensible Heart.

He continues the interaction by organising a singalong for What Makes A Man and the chorus is sung back with gusto. On comes the Harmonica for Body In A Box and the beguiling performance is stunning. It’s a hit and a reminder that simplicity can beat the bigger band approach if you have a talented performer like Dallas Green.

Back in come the others for the remainder and the added oomph provides a fitting finale for the show. The Girl benefits from the big band bombast and the distance from the crowd suffered earlier has been fixed by the acoustic interlude. “Got your dancing shoes on?” asks Dallas to a surprised audience expecting tissues to be the only necessity, before launching into recent single Fragile Bird. Though not enough for a boogie, it merited a decent shuffle.

“This is the bit where I try to say thank you,” begins Dallas Green as he comes back on for the encore, “It feels like when you win an Oscar and you have a speech prepared. Every time I think that, but I never have anything prepared because everytime I’m surprised by how many people turn up”. Oh Dallas, you spoil us with your humility. Some might find it cheesy, yet the response from the crowd suggests it’s endearing. Either way, completing the night with a stunning rendition of crowd favourite Comin’ Home suggests that City and Colour’s modesty is as unnecessary as his cowboy themed backing band.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Eddie T. permalink
    October 27, 2011 2:26 pm

    Agreed. felt too hicky., Coming Home definitely standout. Good stuff

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