City and Colour

Last night I went to see City and Colour at the Jubilee Auditorium.

I think it was the first time I’d been in the audience at the Jubilee Aud, although I’ve been seated on the stage for a couple of convocations. I couldn’t think how to work that into conversation, though. The audience included lots of people showing full-sleeve tattoos like Dallas Green the singer, or emulating his style wearing checked shirts or severe black-framed glasses.

The opening act was called Low Anthem. My friend W had been telling me she was more excited about seeing them than seeing City and Colour. Wikipedia calls them folk rock or indie folk, and I could see them fitting in well at Folkfest. They are from Rhode Island. But the cool thing, that I didn’t realise from listening to tracks ahead of time, is that something about their sound and their main singer reminded me a lot of some band we used to listen to in the old days. And I couldn’t think who. Clapton? Tom Petty? I thought of another group but couldn’t remember their name, and it distracted me all through their set, but a quick application to Wikipedia and a quick response to texts from a music fan in my family told me I was thinking of Traveling Wilburys, and so probably Tom Petty’s voice with the more country-like acoustic arrangements. Whew.

Dallas Green and his band were really good. He has good rapport with the audience, responding to shouted comments, asking very politely for one song with no electronic distractions (the one about a funeral) and getting it, with applause, and getting different sections of the audience to sing the backup bits on What Makes a Man, including knowing how to rehearse us (choral conductors do this well, rock musicians generally don’t). He played almost all my favourites from the earlier albums (except for Save your Scissors) and some from the new one I don’t know so well. The encore was Dallas singing alone while playing the piano on, I actually don’t remember which song now, and then with the rest of the band on Coming Home (wild cheers when he mentioned Saskatoon, even more when he mentioned Nova Scotia).

The “Jube” is an attractive comfortable hall seating about 2500 people. I was near the back of the first balcony, so not as engaged as I might have been but I still had good sight lines even with tall people in front of me. I noticed, though, that for both bands it was hard to distinguish lyrics that I wasn’t already familiar with. In comparison, when I saw the band Stars at the Winspear Centre downtown where the symphony plays, the lyrics were very very clear. (This is fortunate, since Stars has better lyrics!) And from what I read this morning, the symphony used to play at the Jubilee Auditorium until audiophiles and philanthropists were able to arrange a hall with better acoustics — so it’s cool that even I could hear that.

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