Review: City and Colour

COLOURFUL SHOW: City and Colour singer Dallas Green.
COLOURFUL SHOW: City and Colour singer Dallas Green.

"Take your pants off."  It's not what you expect one man to passionately shout to another in a room full of strangers, but the love for City and Colour's Dallas Green was overflowing during the band's first New Zealand show last night.

And while the band is a five-piece, City and Colour is really all about Green. 

A quick history lesson - the tattooed, guitar-totting, bespectacled Canadian was in hardcore band Alexisonfire.  City and Colour was his folky-acoustic solo project. 

Now it is his only project, after Alexisonfire disbanded last year.

Kiwi fans have been waiting a long time to get the award-wining musician down these ways on his own, and it was a stunning Auckland Town Hall, with one of the lushest, most beautiful light shows seen in a very long time, that was lucky enough to play hostess.

With three albums under his belt, fans old and new were rewarded throughout the set, which almost worked backwards, starting with opener We Found Each Other in the Dark from his latest album, Little Hell.

From there it was a two-hour rollercoaster - Bring Me Your Love was surprisingly sultry, while Natural Disaster was a foot-stomping anthem and set closers Coming Home and Hope For Now were soaring ways to say goodnight.

To describe Green's voice, it's necessary to look in the pantry.  His delivery is like caramel - warm, sweet, familiar and once you open the packet, it gets on your hands, in your hair and you just can't get enough. 

While it may have taken him a while to warm up, Green was a charming front man, as he laughed along with the crowd, told stories of lost luggage and cheeky conversations with baggage handlers. 

He abandoned an attempt at audience-sourced backing vocals for What Makes A Man - "you start singing and then you want to sound like Beyonce and it gets out of hand" - and then there was his gush about "stone cold fox" Bic Runga before a beautiful rendition of her song, Capture.

Yip, even hardcore boys from Canada love our Bic.  They just show it with song titles tattooed on their hands.

Although he has moved towards a full band sound on his most recent album (something that probably helped him secure an opening spot for Coldplay earlier this month), the joy of Dallas Green's  early songs are the soul-baring, starkness and simplicity of a man and his guitar.

And thankfully he gave the band a bit of a break during those, ensuring the essence wasn't lost. 

Instead they were utterly spellbinding, and as he launched into Day Old Hate and a cellphone-banned Body in a Box, the crowd were forced into a stunned silence.

And that is saying something - while there was no doubt  fans were thrilled to have the band here, a remarkable amount of people decided this was the type of gig to hang at the back and chat.  Sorry guys, but it didn't go unnoticed and in fact it was at times incredibly rude.

That gripe aside, this was a delightful and magical evening, full of variety and good humour, and with the added bonus of some incredible musicianship.  There is no doubt Green will be back, with or without pants is still to be seen.

Auckland Now