City And Colour, Bush Hall, London

Dallas’ hauntingly clear vocals are really given a chance to shine through – and he is on prime form.

Rating:

It takes something pretty special to tempt the London crowds away from a rare, proper summer’s evening in the city. But such is City and Colour’s devoted – almost fanatical - following that even before the doors have opened at Bush Hall this balmy evening, there’s a queue stretching right around the corner of the venue. In fact, considering the intimacy of the hall compared to City and Colour’s two night residency at The Roundhouse last time they were in town, said queue probably comprises almost half of the ticket holders for the gig tonight – a gig which sold out in mere minutes.

Bush Hall itself, though not much on the outside, boasts a rather grandiose interior decked with chandeliers and red-tinted lighting, making it appear more like a ball room than a gig venue – rather fitting, then, for the waltzing melodies that surround Dallas Green’s sweet serenades. And when the time comes for Dallas and band to take to the stage, his presence silences the excited muttering within the room completely.

Being the first gig since the release of new album ‘The Hurry And The Harm’ just two days ago, this evening is the first time most will be hearing the new songs live. Yet, even as the opening notes of ‘Of Space and Time’ and ‘The Lonely Life’ consume the room, much of the audience are already keenly citing back every lyric, almost drowning out Dallas’ own croon at times.

The songs on this album mark a noticeable progression into a much more full band, dynamic affair. When performed live, that vibe is just excelled further as Dallas’ breathtaking vocals soar over the pulsing instrumentation, giving additional layers to the already progressive arrangements. Even the older material is given that extra dimension, as ‘As Much As I Ever Could’ is bookended with extensive guitar-driven instrumentals, while ‘Weightless’ allows the band to more than prove their rock chops.

Yet it’s when the rest of the band leaves the stage and Dallas stands solo that he really comes into his own. And in a way, by stripping back to the primarily acoustic nature of the first two albums, he’s giving many fans exactly what they want. The mass cheers and unified singalong to old favourites ‘Confessions’ and ‘Hello, I’m in Delaware’ being the clue here. Accompanied by no more than softly strummed acoustics, Dallas’ hauntingly clear vocals are really given a chance to shine through – and he is on prime form.

Inviting the rest of the band back onto the stage, the likes of ‘Waiting’, ‘Thirst’ and ‘Fragile Bird’ inject the pace back into the set, again lifted by the full-scale arrangements. It’s at this point that the most special moment of the set arrives, as Dallas makes an almost philosophical speech about living in the moment; a speech that many fans who have attended any of his gigs before will recognise as a staple part of his live show. “Everyone is trying to remember the show so badly that they forget to actually experience it,” he explains as he urges the audience, just for one song (‘Body In A Box’), to put down their phones and cameras. And what Dallas Green says goes, as all signs of lighted screens disappear almost completely for the rest of the evening.

By this point, an hour and half has somehow already passed, no doubt helped along by the sheer emotional range of a near flawless set. All that’s left is a haunting rendition of ‘Sometimes (I Wish)’, effortlessly slipping into a verse of Sade’s classic ‘No Ordinary Love’ halfway through. And it’s a fitting end to a digs-right-into-the-soul performance that’s seen Dallas Green firmly secure himself both in the hearts of his adoring fans and as one of the best in the game.

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