The existence of Canada’s City and Colour is something of a happy accident. Ontario native Dallas Green started his career in hardcore bands. He was fronting Alexisonfire when he decided to release his solo, acoustic recordings under the City and Colour moniker, selling his EP, The Death of Me, at his shows. The response was enthusiastic enough that he recorded a full album, 2007’s Sometimes, which become his breakout, being certified platinum in 2006 and winning a Juno Award (Canada’s highest musical honors) for Best Alternative Album in 2007.
Like many artists, Green became an overnight success after many, many years of work. He began writing songs in his teens, some of which would later make it to his solo albums. He had his first No. 1 album in Canada with 2011’s Little Hell. In 2012, he disbanded Alexisonfire to focus solely on City and Colour. That decision clearly paid off as evidenced by Dallas’ recent strong performance at the Warner Theatre in DC.
Introducing “We Found Each Other In The Dark,” Dallas told the audience at the Warner Theater on May 16, “This is a song about being kinder to each other.” Usually, he continued, that meets with a mild response.
Earlier in the day, Dallas said, he’d gone for a run in our nation’s capitol, visiting many of the landmarks, eventually arriving at the WWI Memorial, where he reflected on “the assholes who continue to send people to fight in wars.” He railed against people who “fill the world with hate for anyone who thinks a little differently,” a sentiment that I, as someone who definitely thinks a little differently, can get behind. Dallas also invited anyone who disagreed to head for the exit; after the song, he asked, “Did anybody leave?” (I don’t think so, but my attention was on the stage, so they could’ve slipped out unnoticed. I didn’t know I was supposed to be watching the exits, Dallas!)
Going on, Dallas spoke emotionally about how, the previous night, he met an Afghanistan vet who had proposed to “his lady” during “We Found Each Other In The Dark.” The soldier broke down trying to tell him what the song had meant to him over there, and they embraced. It was a beautiful story to accompany the beautiful songs City and Colour delighted the crowd with.
Watch City and Colour perform “We Found Each Other In The Dark” live for CBC Music on YouTube:
City and Colour may have started off a solo acoustic project, but Dallas has embraced a fuller, more electric sound. He said, “Don’t let the seats fool you. This is a rock show.” He added, “Let’s turn this Tuesday evening into at least a Friday afternoon.”
At the very end of last month, they released their latest album, The Love Still Held Me Near. They opened their set with the LP’s title track. The set included several other cuts from the record: “Underground,” “Fucked It Up,” and “Hard, Hard Time,” closing with “Bow Down To Love.” “This is a song about death,” said Dallas, introducing “Two Coins.” Before “Mizzy C,” he said, “People keep telling me rock ‘n’ roll is dead. We’re going to do something about that right now.”
Old favorites like “Astronaut,” “Little Hell,” and “Hello, I’m In Delaware” rounded out the set. Their encore was substantial, consisting of “The Girl,” “Comin’ Home,” “Lover Come Back,” and “Sleeping Sickness.”
Opening act Courtney Marie Andrews has a few things in common with Green. She, too, began writing songs in her early teens, and was barely an adult when she started self-releasing albums. A fantastic singer and songwriter whose vocals are reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, she’s already had a longer career in music.
In 2011, Courtney was approached by the band Jimmy Eat World to sing backing vocals, and she subsequently toured with them on vocals and keys. Courtney broke out as a solo artist in 2016 with Honest Life, and her subsequent albums have received widespread acclaim. Her 2020 album Old Flowers received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album.
Last year, she released Loose Future, a set of warmer, more pop-oriented songs. Some of those made into the set — the title cut and “Burlap String,” along with old favorites like “Break The Spell.”
Watch the official music video for “Loose Future” by Courtney Marie Andrews on YouTube:
“It Must Be Someone Else’s Fault,” she said, is “a song I like to dedicate to family, and all the things we inherit from them, that we get to blame on them.” (I can relate, having inherited all the weirdness gene that runs on both sides of mine.) I didn’t recognize several of the songs, because, as it turned out, they were new, which was exciting.
This was a terrific evening, with tender, emotional songs offered by both the headliner and opener. I’m glad to see Andrews getting the opportunity to play a larger audience, as her work deserves to be more widely known.