Live Review: City & Colour - Palais Theatre

5 May 2012 | 4:35 pm | Brendan Hitchens

Littered with more hits, the sound fills the room and the audience fights the urge to buck the warnings and dance in the aisles.

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Situated between a car park and a theme park, the Palais is an eccentric venue and full of character. Its façade is historic but still suitably St Kilda in its mid-construction glory; inside the venue it's a similar story. It all adds to the theatre's ambience – the venue is ideal for tonight's style of music and is a far cry from the dirt and dust of the Soundwave Festival that marked City & Colour's first Australian tour.

First on tonight is Bahamas, the pseudonym for Canadian musician Afie Jurvanen, who also plays lead guitar in the headline act. Nepotism aside, it's easy to see the mutual influence he and City & Colour's Dallas Green have on each other. Playing folk music, his voice switches between crooning and falsetto and as a lone spotlights shines down on him, he serenades the entering crowd through song. Sharing anecdotes of what each song is about – generally unrequited love – he wins the audience over with his mix of humour and musicianship.

Situating himself stage left as if to emphasise the presence of his bandmates, Green walks on stage and grabs his acoustic guitar. His neck tattoo, obscured by a collared shirt, is the only obvious connection to his former life in pop hardcore band Alexisonfire. No longer a side project nor a solo offering, City & Colour now stand on their own and tonight is as much a statement for the band as it is for Green. This is the second of two sold-out Melbourne shows; expectations are high and the band waste no time in meeting them. Beginning in full band mode, complete with lap steel guitar, they soon shift dynamic, leaving Green alone and acoustic. Before playing Against The Grain, he urges the audience to put down their iPhones and cameras for this one song and give him, and his lyricism, their undivided attention. It doesn't take long before the crowd is captivated. It's a feat achieved on the power of song, rather than his instruction. It's cathartic for the audience, but more so for Green, who dedicates the song to his late producer Dan Achen. The band soon returns for a set within a set and shift the dynamic again. Littered with more hits, the sound fills the room and the audience fights the urge to buck the warnings and dance in the aisles. A movie-length performance that has its twists and turns, its drama and its romance, there's no mistaking who the star at the centre of tonight's show is.