LIVE REVIEW: City and Colour, Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow, 31/10/2023
Photo Credit: Calum McMillan
Some voices are compelling, some are impressive, others, brimming with character. Dallas Green has an objectively beautiful voice. How could he have become anything other than a beloved singer? Truly a talent born to it. Enough to make you believe in fate.
All that being said, clearly Dallas is far from work shy. In the eighteen years since Sometimes was released, City and Colour has evolved from simple acoustic explorations to richly textured and organic compositions featuring an array of instruments and voices to bring it to life. City in Colour in 2023 is much more of a band, and much less of the introspective passion project of a post-hardcore icon.
All that work shows in tonight’s performance. It’s tasteful and full of subtle instrumental flair from a band of musicians clearly at the top of their game. This iteration of City and Colour focuses much more on later material, letting the rich textures of blues and americana act as a foundation for Green’s vulnerable and mesmerising voice. Which is ably backed up by everyone else in the band resulting in some truly arresting harmonies throughout the set.
The stage is lined with boutique and vintage instruments and amplifiers, a stark contrast to a lot of modern stages dominated by LED screens and laptops. Not that the band’s production is devoid of such modern touches, but they’re clearly intended to compliment the musical performances and not dominate it.
Whether it’s the understated sexual throb of Thirst, the brooding Northern Blues or the acoustic gospel vibes of We Found Each Other in the Dark, Green’s voice is the star of the show. It drips in sincerity and charisma in much the same way his band drips in denim and tweed as they expertly breathe life into the songs, occasionally veering off into jam like territory. It’s a throwback to a different kind of time, but one that feels lovingly retro as opposed to cliched and trite.
There’s a noticeable increase in atmosphere when older cuts like Waiting and Hello, I’m in Delaware are brought out. The power of nostalgia for an audience who have been following him for a long time is real and they elicit the biggest singalongs of the evening by far. As accomplished as his recent material is, it’s clearly hard for a lot of his audience to forget why the first fell in love with him, and it was these simpler, more intimate and rawer cuts that did that.
That shouldn’t make you think the rest of the set is received badly, because it isn’t. The audience is wrapped in attention throughout the ninety-minute set, enthusiastically applauding as each lovingly crafted and expertly presented song rings out, but there’s a certain…something to the singalongs and cheers those older tracks prompt that can’t be matched. The number of couples who hold each other just a little closer when those songs are played also speaks volumes. These are really, really special songs and Dallas Green is objectively one of the most unique voices of a generation.
We’re lucky he worked so hard to let us hear him.
Photos and Words: Calum McMillan