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Live Review: City and Colour @ The Tivoli

14 February 2023 | 12:45 pm | Liv Dunford

“This song gets a bad rap…yes, it is about dying, I get that.”

Pic by Alysse Gafkjen

Pic by Alysse Gafkjen

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It was seven-thirty when Canadian psychedelic folk-rock ensemble Dooms Children breezed onto the stage. Originating as the passion project of Wade MacNeil – who also happens to be the co-founder of post-hardcore thrashers Alexisonfire alongside City and Colour’s own Dallas Green – the Children deserted those suffocating sound samples that frequently cycle contemporary radio.

Layers of thick basslines exploded against the colourful backdrop of sound that embodies the 60s, with MacNeil’s distortion and phaser pedals blending into a surprisingly modern groove. It was a welcome serotonin shot for the weary souls who had waited outside the Tivoli and had slugged their way through their nine-to-five prior to that. It was, after all, a Monday night.

Think Band of Horses, but with a radioactive injection of blues. And then imagine you’re on the moon. Shuffling. It’s an intoxicating concoction: a sustained, though never mundane, melody. By the end of the Children’s set, our blood was warm, and as Simple Minds might’ve said, we were alive and kicking.

Alive and kicking, that is, until the theatre was bathed in indigo light and none other than Dallas Green AKA City and Colour himself strolled onto the stage. Everyone in the crowd either looked like they’d just seen Lazarus or looked like they were Lazarus.

Forget the sleek suit jackets sported by the likes of Arctic Monkeys, the Ontario singer opted for a blue-brown Hawaiian shirt, patchwork jeans, and a grey fedora as he sauntered toward the mic stand. “I love you, Dallas!” shouted a suspiciously deep voice as the last of the crowd’s manic screams turned to incredulous laughter. Green, smiling out into the sea of faces, replied: “I love you more,” as the first note of his single Meant To Be off his upcoming album The Love Still Held Me Near (out 31.3.23) rang sharp and clear into the night.

The lighting crew opted for a deep flush of violet as the band transitioned into the first track, Living in Lightning, off Green’s 2019 album A Pill for Loneliness. With a voice reminiscent of the Temper Trap’s Dougy Mandagi, Green led the crowd through the beautifully haunting lyrics that wove between a high-pitched delayed synth that felt, if even possible, like the sound of a memory fading away into oblivion. “I’m still breathing in my youth,” sang a theatre full of breathless people no longer needing their IDs checked at the bar.

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“This is for anybody who’s got their dancing shoes on!” Green put the second distortion mic next to him to good use for the first time that night as bassist Erik Nielsen launched into the meaty opening riff of The Hurry and the Harm’s seventh track, Thirst.

Green ditched his trusty acoustic in favour of a slick Rickenbacker in Strangers, then switched back in Two Coins to balance the rhythm. At the same time, John Sponarski on lead and Nielsen engaged in an electrifying two-minute solo.

“Do you know what it feels like where I’m from?” Green fumbled and nearly dropped the towel he’d been using to wipe down his face. “Not like this.”

Allowing everyone a reprieve amidst the sweltering heat, he introduced We Found Each Other In The Dark: “This is just a song about how everybody’s waking up and trying to figure out this ridiculous thing called life. If you’re with us, sing along. If you’re not, you can go get a beer during this one.” What a marvel it is to witness an artist so comfortable within his own music that he offers punters the option of heading to the bar without them creating a faux pas. This is Dallas Green – so naturally, no one moved a muscle.

The opening chords of Little Hell’s rocker, Weightless, echoed through the theatre as Green stood alone with his guitar and sang “Come close, lay next to me.” The brilliance of using his second mic was that he sounded rather far away. Everyone crowded around the balcony and leant forward. We couldn’t help it. This man was a siren.

“This song gets a bad rap…yes, it is about dying, I get that.” Green was met with a series of chuckles as he explained Waiting… “But to me, this song is more about living. This song is joyful.”

Before blitzing another new single, Underground, and dancing to the opening drive of Fragile Bird, Green introduced the rest of the band, who also happen to be members of The Deep Dark Woods: Leon Power on drums and Matt Kelly “playing everything.”

During the encore, Green turned Comin’ Home into an ode to Australia on his last night of the tour: “Sometimes I feel like I’m singing it about this place.” Someone (who sounded quite like the first person) cried out, “You’re always welcome!”

Indeed you are, Dallas Green. Indeed you are.