Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Green Paints Birmingham Red

Michelle, a superfan jammed between the stage and 1500 other equally eager fans, said that the name City and Colour comes from the name of the front man; Dallas Green

“City as in Dallas, Colour as in Green”, she helpfully explained. 

She had followed Green for the past 20 years and her strong, emotional connection with the music was tangible. Apparently, his reasoning was that he felt uneasy performing under his own name. This unassuming, self-conscious nature was at odds with a show which was nothing short of a spectacle.

Birmingham’s O2 Institute was full to capacity as Green and his band walked out. A soundstage comprising four guitars and one drum kit is a recipe for decibels, lots of decibels, yet the blend was beautifully tuned and integrated, with punchy highs and smooth lows. A truly impressive lightshow literally completed the picture, with multicoloured spotlights echoing the mood and tall LED panels creating a backdrop of images which transformed the performance from a gig into an art installation. The thought and preparation which had gone into the technical design of the show was obvious, transforming the already impressive venue into a cathedral of sound, at one point quite literally as the panels became stained glass windows.

Opening with one of Green’s gentler ballads, ‘Meant to Be’, City and Colour blazed through a broad catalogue of songs, ranging from the hard, driving pop-blues-country-tinged rock of ‘Underground’ to the soulful, mellow blues of ‘Hello, I’m in Delaware’. Throughout all of this, the high-tech background brought the music to life. The cosmos and planet Earth with yellow lights representing the rising and setting sun, a late night cityscape, a growing, expanding flower, torrents of hot lava and the aforementioned stained glass were interspersed with abstract colours. The overall effect, whilst awe-inspiring, added depth to the music rather than distracting from it.

Celebrating the seventh of City and Colour’s studio albums, ‘The Love Still Held Me Near’, the tour has taken Green and co across the UK, Europe, US, Canada and Australia, almost non stop since January 2023 - almost 80 dates in total. Such a relentless pace needs both energy and passion, and both of those were in abundance in the show. With Spotify listens in the millions, tens of millions and even hundreds of millions, there was plenty to choose from. The set of 18 songs told a story, varying the pace and the mood to keep the audience on their feet and enthralled with the emotionally transcendent experience.

Climaxing in a kind of group guitar-off with the whole band converging on one spot, the show ended abruptly with Green and his colleagues walking off with only a casual wave to the audience. A chant of “one more song” broke out and the fans were rewarded with not one but four more songs, ending with the powerful, soul searching anthem ‘Sleeping Sickness’. Green’s understated demeanour and relaxed composure were maintained throughout but the same cannot be said for the 1500 fans crammed into the O2 Institute who were beyond themselves with joy, such was the powerful emotional connection made by Green and his band. Superfan Michelle was uplifted, thrilled and carried away by the skilfully diverse songwriting and the powerfully emotive performance of Dallas Green.

The UK leg of the tour runs until November 4th with dates in Canada until the end of February, so there’s still time left to join the City and Colour congregation.

Peter Freeth

Instagram @genius.photo.pf

Web genius.photo

Images: Peter Freeth

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