Whoever is in charge of controlling the weather in Melbourne on Saturday night sure knew how to do it right. The cool breeze (and, thankfully, not a cloud in sight) created the perfect atmosphere for lazing on the grassy surrounds of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
Half an hour before Sydney trio Little May were set to take the stage and there were enough people doing just that. As the trio stepped out, lazing became sitting up attentively, the crowd ready for a show. Led by vocalist Hannah Field, their brand of indie-pop was a fitting warm-up for the night. “How’s the serenity?” Field asked, looking out on the open-air surroundings of the venue before swiftly returning to their set. Three-part harmonies and groovy melodies, mixed with awkward banter, left the venue buzzing with excitement for what was to come.
Emerging onto the stage bathed in blue light and backed by Soul II Soul’s Back To Life, City & Colour move swiftly into Woman, the opening track from 2015’s If I Should Go Before You. There is no need for introductions tonight, the crowd are well aware of who they are about to see, and Dallas Green- on his 15th visit to our country- is ready to leave nobody disappointed.
Green is obviously not one for unnecessary conversation, swapping out pleasantries for playing time, his set filled to the brim with tracks played largely back to back. He is five songs in before addressing the crowd for the first time, a simple ‘thank you very much’ is all he needs.
It is the moments when Green pauses to chat with the audience that show his true character, outside of the soaring vocals and captivating stage presence. From short stories explaining the meaning behind certain songs or casual banter about his first AFL experience the night before and his up and down relationship with running, Green has the crowd laughing along with him.
Silhouetted in a sea of dancing beams and twinkling lights reflecting the night sky in front of him, Green and his backing band treat the audience to a set showcasing all five of his records- even slotting in ‘a very old song with a slice of lime’- Hello, I’m In Delaware from his 2005 solo debut Sometimes.
Dallas Green is a mesmerising figure on stage, and besides the growing applause that meets him between tracks the crowd are mostly quiet, stunned into a silent awe as they try and take in everything they are witnessing. Halfway into his set and Lover Come Back draws out the first real singalong.
While softer tracks like If I Should Go Before You and Sleeping Sickness show off the true height of Green’s vocals, it is songs with a heavier edge like Wasted Love and As Much As I Ever Could that show of the musical prowess of Green’s band, and their chemistry as a whole live unit.
As a performer, Green is as hauntingly beautiful as he is effortlessly commanding and the ease in which he transforms a space as big and open as this, into a room that feels warm and intimate, is true testament to that.
Photos: Darren Tan