City and Colour are currently on tour across the UK and Ireland, part of which included the sold-out Manchester show on Saturday 20th February at the iconic Albert Hall with special guest, Lucy Rose.
The latest tour comes in support of their latest studio album, If I Should Go Before You, the fifth full-length release from City and Colour, which follows the recognisable folk rooted sounds and angelic vocals from Canadian singer / songwriter Dallas Green, but brings with it fresh compositions including Blues and heavier, dark patterns.
Dallas Green began his notable career in the post-hardcore band, Alexisonfire, before opting for a solo career in 2005, which focused on acoustic folk music, under the name City and Colour (which derives from his own name: Dallas being a city, and Green, a colour). I understand a gig review for a band like City and Colour may not be considered the norm for Planetmosh, but you really can’t hold anything against this artist for wanting to produce a sound suited to his voice and passion.
The night was kick started by the singer-songwriter, Lucy Rose, a young indie artist from Warwickshire who was an ideal suit to both the crowd, and the sound respected by City and Colour. Lucy is best known for her soundtrack editions to shows such as Skins, Catfish: The TV Show and The Vampire Diaries.
Although not normally my musical preference, I can relate to why she would succeed in the music industry of today. Her charismatic writing style, coupled with her delicate vocals make for great listening material. My only judgment would be that the styling in her studio released material comes across as something I’ve heard time and time again. The instrumental accompaniment can on occasion portray her as another passing artist, which would most certainly be a shame.
Her live performance was a breath of fresh air – the energetic integration with her group and the distancing from what I expected to be solo session made the set come across more as a band. The whole set was played beautifully, and the well-balanced dynamics of the band took the songs to an entirely new level of intensity than I was anticipating.
Middle of the Bed was introduced by a heavy riff-led rhythm, before pouncing into a funky movement alongside Lucy soft, well-ranged voice, similar to that of Florence and the Machine. It wasn’t long before Lucy’s interaction with the crowd rubbed off, and there was a terrific sense of crowd involvement, which I don’t often see for support acts.
Saying this however, from the first time I listened to Lucy Rose, I could understand why she was chosen as a special guest. Her music has extremely close connections to that of City and Colour, and as I watched her on stage, I began to imagine them performing together, much like Dallas Greens previous collaborations with artists such as Pink (who briefly formed You+Me).
Unbeknown to me, Dallas joined Lucy near the end of her set to perform a duet on one of her tracks She’ll Move. Not only was this an unexpected surprise for the crowd, I also found it great for Dallas to perform one of Lucy’s original songs.
You could tell Lucy was sincerely enjoying her time on stage, and had pride over the fact she was sharing a tour and stage with such a relatable band. She thanked the crowd for listening on numerous occasions and came across so humble considering she’s established enough to take part in tours across the world in such a short music career.
As the stage was set up with incense sticks burning, and a single Corona positioned on a stool by the microphone, the night finally turned to the headlining act of City and Colour. One of the first things I’ve noticed at City and Colour gigs is the diversity of fans they manage to attract, from Rockers I’ve seen time and time again through the Manchester Rock scene, to big large groups of guys and girls on a night out, to couples cradling each other, it’s a pretty mixed batch brought together.
This tour certainly catered to each fans interests as they performed a real mixed range of songs from all five of their studio albums. I found this really uplifting, considering the tour was in support of a new release. It didn’t come across as a tactic for creating further interest in the new material, it felt more comfortable, and aimed at what the audience wants.
Woman was the eerie opening track to the nights set (fitting considering it is also the opening track to If I Should Go Before You), which immediately grabbed the attention of the crowd with its dark building introduction, which paved the way for the intoxicating voice of Dallas that everyone was waiting for.
Although somewhat repetitive, this track is a terrific direction I hope they continue down, for similar reasons that I mentioned in regards to Lucy Rose. The band’s input on the track make it an incredible power piece, at points resembling sounds similar to Pink Floyd, which compliments Dallas’ tenor vocals perfectly.
Love Come Back encompassed some awesome soulful blues riffs, that again demonstrated the different directions this one band can take with there music, each track sounding distinctive from the rest.
The entire performance remained flawless from start to finish, with Dallas’ impeccable falsetto taking centre stage throughout, and with four encore tracks, City and Colour certainly didn’t disappoint the crowd. There was little interaction with the crowd, but at the same time, I respect that the set focused on what mattered – the music.
When you take the time to appreciate the music he is producing, it’s fair to say that it holds some of the most fundamental characteristics derived from punk, Country, Folk, Blues and Rock. All of these styles ultimately come together to form the sound that is City and Colour, and even though it’s considered acoustic, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t rock.
I felt that the Albert Hall itself added to the whole atmosphere of the night in a way many venues wouldn’t be able to consider. The archetypal venue has over 100 years of history within its walls, and couldn’t be better suited to the musical talent of artists like Dallas Green. This was a venue with true character, which helped in complementing his sound and style beautifully, ultimately added to the already electric atmosphere.
There are still a handful of dates left before the tour moves across to Europe, so if City and Colour are in a city near you, they’re well worth paying attention to.
Remaining UK & Ireland Tour Dates
Monday 22nd February – The Helix, Dublin
Tuesday 23rd February – Mandela Hall, Belfast
Wednesday, 24th February – O2 Academy, Glasgow
Friday, 26th February – The Troxy
Saturday 27th February – The Troxy
Lucy Rose set list
Into The Wild
Middle of The Bed
She’ll Move (duet with Dallas Green)
City and Colour set list
Of Space and Time
The Lonely Life
If I Should Go Before You
Hello, I’m in Delaware
Lover Come Back
We Found Each Other in the Dark
The Grand Optimist
As Much as I Ever Could
— ENCORE —
Body in a Box
Hope For Now
Review by Jamie Joe Reader-Johnson
Photos by Jennifer Crew of JC Photography