Reviews

City and Colour

Carole Ann Wright

The marquee at Los Angeles' El Rey theatre said it all: City and Colour SOLD OUT.

City and Colour

City: Los Angeles, CA
Venue: El Rey Theatre
Date: 2009-01-28

The marquee at Los Angeles' El Rey theatre said it all: City and Colour SOLD OUT. To anyone who's had the privilege of hearing the debut album, Sometimes, by screamo favorites Alexisonfire singer Dallas Green's little-known folk side project, those two big words came as no surprise (in Canada, preorders for Green's second offering, Bring Me Your Love, were so numerous that they crashed the label's website). Though unlikely to be considered as "revolutionary," both discs are nevertheless refreshingly strong, and this subtly commanding performance in particular proved that he certainly has the chops to back it up -- whether or not he yet realizes it. After joining opener William Elliott Whitmore (think The Black Keys transported to Son House' doorstep circa 1930) on the lovely and fittingly auspicious "There's Hope For You", the band surprised the crowd by sending out guitarist Matthew Sullivan for an acoustic, introduction-less interpretation of Queen's ubiquitous masterpiece, "Bohemian Rhapsody", prompting the audience to provide the vocals. The gesture effectively set the tone of the show that was to follow: An intimate gathering in the midst of a few hundred hipsters, encouraged into respectful submission by a general vote of confidence from the up-and-coming band. There's something to be said for an act that doesn't rely on anticipation for the "hit single" to keep the audience's attention. Green, decked out like 90% of the crowd in his signature folky flannel and "tube" (Canadian for "beanie"), chose to bust out the fantastic "Sam Malone" as only the second song, and "Waiting", the lead single off the new album, shortly thereafter. In between, his witty banter was almost as arresting as the music itself, running the gamut from self-effacing to fiercely prideful, poking fun at America's illogical view of Canadians. Like any sold-out show, however, hecklers persisted in yelling out requests, and when Green began to postulate about "what it takes to be the person who yells… I don't have it," one heckler took the comments a little too seriously. It's a testament to Green's likeability that the audience quickly booed the offender into apologizing. Green wrapped up the majority of the last show of his current tour much as the he had began -- on his own. Though the music as a whole erred on the hypnotically repetitive side (not always a good thing), including covers of Madonna's "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" and "Murder" by Low, even the new songs were saved from the doldrums of mediocrity by Green's entrancing vocals, which never ceased to amaze. All in all, the show fell a little bit short of perfection, hindered by a handful of awkward moments (his downfall in previous opening spots for fellow Canadians Tegan and Sara) and a misplaced demand for energy amid a set list full of quiet, "sad bastard" tunes. That aside, Green's self-deprecating charisma was endearing enough to make the impediments more charming than irritating. Although perhaps more effective in a more intimate setting, the legions of plaid-clad hipsters stuffed into the theatre would probably have begged to differ. Before beginning his closing number, the very poignant "Comin' Home", Green took a moment to offer a truly sincere vote of appreciation to the massive crowd: "When I say 'thank you for coming,' I wish I could make you understand what it means to me." It was a beautiful way to end a beautiful night, leaving the equally appreciative fans with an elation that was almost tangible.


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