Regina welcomes City and Colour
Dallas Green can do no wrong
There wasn’t a dull moment at the City and Colour concert on Nov. 15 at Evraz Place. The audience’s responses ranged from quiet reverence to righteous rage; from moments singing in unison to moments where there wasn’t a dry eye to be found.
City and Colour is an alias for Dallas Green who started his solo-project in the mid-2000s, branching out from his roots in Alexisonfire. Green’s first opening act was a band he’s acting producer for, Ben Rogers. This group comes from British Columbia, and has a very strong west-coast-folk influence to their tone, sound, and general mood. What stuck out the most for me and many others about Ben Rogers’ performance was a song called “The Highway of Tears.” The title references British Columbia’s Provincial AutoRoute 16, a known location for both past and present abductions of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Rogers dedicated the song to Tina Fontaine, an Indigenous teen who was murdered in Winnipeg in the summer of 2014.
Through the song, Rogers uses his performance art for activism by laying out plain and simple what little concern those in federal government show for problems out of their sight with this chorus line: “Broken lives only matter if the pieces can be seen, and it’s a long way from that highway to that hill in Ottawa.”
Show attendee Sarah Furutani was struck deeply by the song
“I think it is really culturally relevant and I love that they used their platform to call attention to a nationwide issue, and that they dedicated it to someone specific. There’s such power in presenting those women with their names instead of just ‘the missing and murdered.’”
The second opener for the show was Jacob Banks, a singer/songwriter born in Nigeria who grew up in England and by some deity’s grace wound up performing in Regina. This man’s voice took my breath away and gave me life all in one measure – if you haven’t looked him up already, this is your sign to. It’s as if Louis Armstrong and Hozier had a baby, and meanwhile John Legend had a baby with Chris Martin from Coldplay, and then those babies had a baby that was blessed at birth by Bob Marley. His voice somehow has this perfect warm raspiness to it without sounding strained or guttural, and the instrumental writing suited the mood and complimented the melody just perfectly with every song. Banks transgresses genre categories by playing a cocktail of soul, gospel, blues, and R&B. He also gave a nod to his British upbringing by doing a live cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You,” taking everyone by surprise and leaving tears in more than a few eyes.
My first time seeing City and Colour was nearly a decade ago so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Green now. His music has taken on a stronger pop influence in recent years, which was shown most obviously in the show by the lights used throughout the show. They would at times change with beats or sequences and the movement was quite pretty. I found it a unique way to hold the audience’s attention visually as the group wasn’t dancing and moving enough to hold the attention of most for long.
Green made a much larger effort to connect with the audience conversationally this visit than last. Between the show and the start to his encore he made jokes about how far away the bathrooms were from the stage, and shortly before that he’d thanked an audience member for being the first person to yell “I hope you’re having a great night,” all tour long.
Many of the songs played were from City and Colour’s newest album, a pill for loneliness but some thought it was too many, including Tylar Chapman, another show attendee.
“City and Colour was great, but I do wish he played more of his older stuff. I’m just personally not into his newer music as much. It’s still good, but I think some of why I wanted more of his older stuff was partly because of the nostalgia factor, as his pre-2013 era writing was the stuff I could relate to as a teenager while going through high-school.”
The best part of Green’s performance for me was when he played those older, 2013-and-earlier songs. Last year he released a special album titled Guide Me Back Home (Live), comprised of 20 favourite past songs recorded live at over a dozen separate shows. I feel as though choosing to do that album project so shortly before releasing an entirely new album and doing a tour was an incredible move. It kept all those favourite past songs present in the performer’s heads so when they played them live for us it still had a very present feeling. You could tell the songs still had their original depth and poetry of lyrics, but over time that poetry had taken on new meaning. The contrast between the atmospheric quality of his last show I attended versus him now is a true testament to his talent as an artist and performer.