I’ve seen Dallas Green with Alexisonfire numerous times over the years, but this was the first time I saw him solo as City and Colour and it was a good, but obviously different experience. It was nice to finally see someone at the Burton Cummings Theatre who fits in with how the venue is laid out. All you’ll find is red plush seats, but those are perfect for taking in a show like this, which is a lot mellower than the shows I usually go to.
Dallas came on stage all dressed up with his band, sticking to the left side instead of moving to the front and centre where his bass player stood. I’m probably reading into it too much, but I thought it was interesting he was in the same place he stood with his former band. He kicked things off with “We Found Each Other in the Dark” and instantly I realized just how great he sounds live. Usually there’s a slight difference, but with Dallas, there’s no difference between his amazing voice live or on recordings. It was perfect. After he dug into “Sleeping Sickness,” one of his more popular songs and then into “The Death of Me” before choosing Little Hell’'s “The Grand Optimist.” For the most part he just kept on playing. He wasn’t as conversational as some of the other solo acts I've seen, but I can’t say I was expecting him to be either. It wasn’t until he played the somber “Missing (Serravalle)", a song he wrote about his religion teacher, that he really got talking.
I was too busy watching him on stage to really know what happened, but apparently some people were standing up, moving around in their seats and trying to get a better angle to capture the performance on their iPhones. He said “What the fuck?” and stopped playing before launching into how people paid money to see the show and how everyone in the crowd should be respectful to each other and sit down. The majority of the crowd seemed to agree and cheered as he was talking and I could see where he was coming from to a certain extent. Before he started his new song, “Body in a Box,” he asked everyone to do him a favour. He didn’t want anyone to get on their phones to recapture the show, he just wanted them to be experiencing it in the moment. And after that, the diverse crowd was on its best behaviour. There were plenty of people like me who grew up on Alexisonfire and MuchMusic, I even ran into two people I went to high school with. But it was so much more than that, I saw some people my age at the show with their moms, some younger families, even some people who had to be in their 40s or 50s. He sold a venue that holds just under 2000 people out and it was a big reminder of just how big City and Colour has gotten over the years.
Back to the show, he basically continued on as before. He got the crowd to do a sing along for “What Makes a Man?” and that was cool. The way the chorus is set up, he needs two singers and it worked out well. Then he played “The Girl” and he started doing some friendly small talk, commenting on the abnormally warm Canadian winter this year. Before long, it was time for the encore. He came out alone, still sticking to the left side of the stage, and apologized for lashing out earlier that night, which was met with cheers. Then he launched into “Comin’ Home.” Eventually his backing band returned and they played “Sometimes (I Wish)” before leaving the stage for good. It was a good set, about 16 songs I believe. He played for an hour and a half.
The opening act was Rhode Island’s The Low Anthem and while they sounded great, I can’t say their set was too memorable. The type of music they play, it’s definitely not energetic, but I felt like they could have engaged the crowd more.