It was a shaky start for the former Alexisonfire co-frontman Dallas Green, now known better as City and Colour, on his first night at the Palais. After taking to the stage in almost silence from the crowd, applause was forthcoming after a brief “hello” was whispered into the microphone. Launching straight into We Found Each Other In The Dark, there was an eerie silence to the sold-out Melbourne crowd.
In Australia for the Groovin the Moo festivals and to promote their third full-length album Little Hell, there was barely a word spoken between Green and the audience, and oddly between Green and his fellow band members, during the first course of songs, which included Natural Disaster, The Grand Optimist and Sleeping Sickness. The band finally found some connection with the audience on the up-tempo song Weightless, but personally, I was feeling a little flat when new guitarist and support act Bahamas (Afie Jurvanen) took a beautiful guitar solo and made it into a scrambled mess.
It was only once the band left the stage, leaving Green and the audience alone, that Green finally seemed at ease in his surroundings, even responding to comments from the crowd such as “bring back Alexis” and “if you were gay I would turn for you”; this prompted a response of “I’m glad you got that off your chest”.
With just himself and a guitar, Green moved into his back catalogue and captured the audience with a terrific rendition of Day Old Hate. In true Dallas Green style, he then asked the audience members to take out their phones and cameras and hold them in the air, then, place them back in their pockets – he wanted one song with the audience’s full attention, something that has become a staple of City and Colour gigs – especially poignant for a song like Body in a Box. The crowd obliged and memories were created.
After some more much-needed banter, Green finished his solo set with a crowd-participative version of What Makes a Man, and despite the lacklustre crowd, he still managed to encourage a decent sing-a-long – the first for the night.
When his band rejoined him, it felt like the whole evening finally clicked and the camaraderie flowed. Jumping straight into a slightly different arrangement of The Girl, the crowd finally found voice and some nice harmonies formed.
Fragile Bird set up a rock-inspired finish and flowed straight into an epic version of Sorrowing Man, a song that Green clearly loves to perform, and it was evident in the outpouring of enthusiasm and emotion. Finishing in a blaze of glory, Green and his band thanked the audience and walked off to huge applause. Returning after a short break, Green came out solo to perform Coming Home to the crowd’s full attention.
Hope For Now was the final song of the night and with full band behind him, Green powered through the song with his trademark vocals. In an odd display, all the band members left the stage one by one leaving Green to finish the song and the concert off by himself with just a simple “thank you”.
There is no denying Green’s extraordinary talent, and for those that will be seeing him on Thursday May 3 or at the Groovin the Moo festivals around regional Australia, you won’t leave disappointed. He is a rare talent and somebody that has transcended genres and audiences, which was apparent in the broad range of people inside the Palais, something I’m sure the punk in Green is still getting used to. But some of the night felt a little off and it wasn’t until late in the evening that I really felt a cohesion between band and audience; maybe it was that new band member or simply a bit of jetlag – no doubt as the tour goes on we will get to see the City and Colour we know and love in full flight.