by Julia Bernicker
The audience of City and Colour’s show at the Royale looked like this: everyone was either bearded, wearing flannel, or holding expensive craft beer from the bar (or a combo of all three). Dallas Green, the man behind City and Colour (hence his stage name: Dallas, a city, and Green, a color), matched with the crowd perfectly. The vibe he gives off matches up with his music, which consists of mellow folk/rock jams that is perfect for a late-night jacuzzi session or a drive in the rain, but this sold out show proved that Green also holds his own as a live performer.
In fact, this show was one of two shows City and Colour performed in Boston. The first night at the Royale featured a full backing band, whereas the second at the Berklee Performance Center was a solo acoustic set. These two shows also speak to a division in Green’s catalogue, as his first few albums, such as 2005 release Sometimes and 2007’s Bring Me Your Love, were productionally sparse, usually featuring only a single acoustic guitar and Green’s silky smooth voice. His newest album, A Pill For Loneliness, which was released only two weeks before the show, is a major departure from this earlier work. But even as Green got less folky and delved into more mellow rock, his voice still took center stage both on the album and at the Royale.
The setlist also did a surprisingly good job of incorporating this musical evolution. Green opened with “Astronaut” and a couple more songs off his new album. Picture heavy reverb and smoky background lights—a little grungy, a little mysterious. He made sure to sprinkle in old crowd favorites like “Little Hell” and “Northern Wind”, with an acoustic set in the middle that featured just him and a guitar. These songs brought down the crowd for an intimate moment with slow choruses that everyone could sing along to.
Despite being a guy who is known for sappy and soft music, Green was a commanding force on the stage and kept the crowd quiet and head-bobbing all throughout the show. Before one of the last songs, Green even called out a guy who was talking, saying “You’re ruining it for everyone else. If you all know the words to this song please sing them so we don’t have to hear this guy.” Everyone cheered—Green was a hero. Closing with a full band version of “Sleeping Sickness”, the crowd foot-stomped and clapped along to the folky jam of guitars and tambourines. City and Colour delivered a show that ticked every emotional box and left fans with bellies full of beer, a feeling of bliss, and utter fulfilment.