Published on July 11th, 2016 | by Stacey McLaughlin0
Jazzfest: City and Colour
City and Colour close out the Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival this year. Crowds pack in for a great show as a storm looms in the background.
This year’s SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival closed out its lineup at the Delta Bessborough Gardens with an extraordinary show by City and Colour. A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued that day, so the festival coordinators had smartly moved the time slot ahead half an hour, and to be fair Dallas Green was probably on the stage five minutes early, eager and excited good Canadian boy that he is, not wanting to make the adoring crowd wait any longer than they possibly had to.
The crowd was as electric (and humid) as the weather itself. The venue was packed that night; perhaps everyone wanted to get their one last shot of the Jazz Festival in, although Dallas Green certainly needs no help drawing his own crowd. From his time with post-hardcore band Alexisonfire to developing his own strong following with City and Colour, this multi-talented musician has demonstrated that he is an act to keep an eye on. He is every bit as talented of a songwriter and guitar player as he is a singer. His voice has a resonance to it that lends itself to so many genres. It’s as if he uses his voice as an instrument as much as he would a guitar or a piano. It’s very soulful and melodic, and it’s an instrument that an observant listener can tell Green has perfected and refined.
He opened with 2015’s dark and brooding folkish hit ‘Woman.’ The technically precise guitar riffs, beautifully layered soundscapes, and haunting lyrics, in addition to the instant recognizability of this song made it the perfect song to open with. The performance was at the same time fragile and powerful.
After playing through a few more great songs and really warming the crowd up, Green turned to his 2015 hit ‘Killing Time’ from the album If I Should Go Before You. This live version was played with a noticeably more upbeat tempo, jazzier-infused beats, as opposed to the smooth laid-back groove of the studio release, and the guitars were substantially more aggressive. In hindsight it begs the question of whether they sped the song up to allow more time for more songs on a truncated timeline, or if they changed styles for the venue. Either way it was great fun to see a different take on a great song.
When the band broke into their 2008 heartrending hit ‘Sleeping Sickness’ from the album Bring Me Your Love, it felt like a homecoming in many ways. Suddenly those who had been seated stood up, and almost everyone began dancing and singing along with this beloved tune. It demonstrated Green’s ability to unite large groups with his musical gifts. While the overall mood at this show was generally positive to begin with, once this song began the spirits of the crowd seemed buoyant, despite the somewhat dark and morose lyrics of the song itself — perhaps because of the love and attachment so many have for the song and the music itself.
As rather ominous, dark, towering clouds rolled up from behind the stately Delta Bessborough, the band countered with the equally dramatic ‘Grand Optimist.’ The song seemed to almost mirror the weather in its intensity as the clouds rolled in and grew larger and larger, the song growing louder and more powerful until its triumphant climax.
It was after this song that Dallas Green announced in a somewhat dejected tone that he was being told that he had to leave, but before the audience could even sigh their own disappointment, he defiantly proclaimed that he was going to sing one more song. Naturally it was his 2005 hit ‘Coming Home’ from the album Sometimes, which resulted in eruptions of cheers from a crowd that was now starting to be pelted by rain and lashed at violently by the strong winds. Over the course of the song some people took cover, but a vast majority stayed put to enjoy the song it its entirety, which also included a mashup of his Alexisonfire hit, ‘This Could be Anywhere in the World.’
By the end one of this performance, one of the large video screens had fallen down, concert attendants were running for cover, and ill-prepared people were cursing that they hadn’t brought a raincoat as they were now thoroughly soaked. Throughout it all, Dallas Green kept his composure. This show was one concert attendees will look back on for years to come with amazement and with great stories to tell about that time they were dazzled by City and Colour until a severe thunderstorm chased them out of Bess Gardens — and even then, Green had held on for just one more song.
Editor’s Note: a quick shot of the gathering darkness!