LIVE: City And Colour @ The Palladium, London

By Chelsea Smile

It’s not often that we’re treated to a gig in London’s famous ‘Theatreland’ but, after Madonna’s recent residency, City And Colour are playing their second night on the bounce here at the Palladium in Soho. It still feels like we’re here to watch a play, though, with red coated staff showing patrons to their seats, a heavy safety curtain drawn firmly down in front of the stage, and smartly dressed ushers selling ice-creams and packets of sweets from hip-height trays holstered around their necks.

Dallas Green, Mr City And Colour himself, takes to the stage dressed in dark clothes underneath a smart brown trilby style hat. Picking up his semi-acoustic guitar, he stands centrally under a single spotlight, and opens with ‘Fragile Bird’, singing gracefully through his natural salt ‘n’ pepper beard. The dulcet tones of Green’s unmistakable voice are even more exquisite in real life than they are on record.

During the first brief period of silence, the positive heckling starts and becomes a permanent feature throughout, with “WE LOVE YOU DALLAS!” and the like bellowed at the Canadian from his seated three-tier audience. People are not exactly sober in this theatre, and Green is here for it – it’s Saturday night after all – as he receives the praise humbly and with warmth.

Session musician Matt Kelly soon joins him on stage for ‘What Makes a Man?’ and stays for the rest of the performance, accompanying him with an additional guitar and backing vocals. Both sit under a semi-circle of lights rising from the floor and back down again, changing between blue and pink, red, and all of the colours of the rainbow at once throughout the show. It’s a delicately soft use of light to highlight the solo artist, who stands before us without any sort of backdrop or banner to risk distraction.

Only three songs from City And Colour’s latest record, ‘A Pill for Loneliness’, are played, including ‘Difficult Love’ – which Green prefaces by saying that he “didn’t know how much [he] was going to need it right now”, dedicating the song to anybody who is “going through it”. At this point, Green’s sadness is almost tangible, and the emotion he plays with is raw as he pours his heart out. The singer-songwriter has always been notoriously private, using social media solely to publicise his art, and it makes this admission of vulnerability feel particularly touching.

As it’s the final night of this 15-date European tour, Green name checks the crew and implores the audience to applaud their work before playing ‘Blood’ as the 16th song of the night and swiftly exiting stage left.

He returns for an encore, jokingly explaining that he wasn’t leaving the audience waiting for more in the style of U2 front man Bono, rather that there is practically a maze to get through backstage to use the facilities. Green restarts with ‘Comin’ Home’ before seamlessly meshing it into Alexisonfire’s ‘This Could Be Anywhere In The World’. Alexis fans in the room are practically bursting with glee over this stripped back version of a legitimate favourite and sing along word for word, before the show finishes with ‘Little Hell’ and ‘Sleeping Sickness’.

Irrespective of what he’s currently dealing with in his personal life, Dallas Green left his whole heart and soul on stage tonight, like the true artist he really is.