City And Colour

support Hannah Georgas
author AP date 24/02/14 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

I'm enjoying a rare week without metal on the menu, with two singer-songwriters comprising my concert schedule (Frank Turner with his Sleeping Souls tomorrow) for the conclusion of February. I've been a fan of both that man and tonight's City and Colour - the recording alias of Alexisonfire guitarist/vocalist Dallas Green - for a long time, so it is not as though I feel out of my comfort zone. But with a support act like Hannah Georgas, I do sense that I tend to prefer a barrage of riffs any day.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

Hannah Georgas

You see, despite the fact that there is no denying the prowess in Georgas' gorgeous voice, delivered pitch perfect and clear as daylight; her take on pop music is not unheard of. In fact, it's becoming a little trite. There are exceptions, such as the smoothly evolving opening track "Elephants", with its pulsating yet subtle electronic foundation and meekly introduced guitar and bass notes (courtesy of session musicians); and "Shortie", which impresses with an oddly infectious rhythm and muted melody. But by and large the only aspect to her music that affords it any sort of character is her abilities as a singer. The way she uses her voice reminds me of First Aid Kit and, occasionally, Florence + The Machine, and I suppose it is from the folksy nature of it that Georgas has earned the indie suffix.

It does not increase my dwindling interest in the show that she maintains a distance between herself and the audience, only addressing it when absolutely necessary, and often with an unintended touch of awkwardness. As a result, whilst people remain politely quiet and bob their heads ever so slightly and applaud Georgas in between the songs, there seems to be the growing feeling that this is something that needs simply to be endured ahead of the evening's much anticipated headliner. To me personally, Georgas resort to well worn lyrics that more often than not center around the word love especially in her more straightforward pop tracks such as "Lovers Breakdown" forms a distinctly negative impression - especially when placed in contrast with a number of songs that propose to resemble Portishead's quieter songs. Those are the ones that impress me the most, but never to the extent that Georgas manages to form a lasting impression.

6

City And Colour

Fortunately, Dallas Green suffers from no such lacks: his music is more unique, and carries a virtually infinite supply of personality - this is obvious from the get-go, as we are given "Forgive Me" from his 2008 LP "Bring Me Your Love". Green has a stunning voice (this was known already from his time with Alexisonfire), his lyrics are graced with poetic eloquence, and the music, a mix of folk, blues rock and indie, has so much to offer by way of texture and detail. It's so downcast, yet beautiful, with songs like "The Lonely Life" delivered with chilling emotion, Green & touring guitarist Dante Schwebel's country stylings imbuing it with soul. The following "Grand Optimist", too, sounds absolutely incredible, putting a plaster on the slight wound inflicted by Green's initial falling short in a number of falsetto bits.

From there on, it's a concert of staggering beauty, Green's otherworldly singing and his session band's wrenching crescendos enveloping the room in a haze of reverie and magic. Though there are of course the usual packs of people more interested in exchanging chit-chat, I am profoundly struck by an elderly couple standing beside me, man holding his woman both with eyes shut. Truly, the music of City and Colour has the capacity to stretch beyond generations, to mesmerise without prejudice.

What is even more remarkable is how clean and powerful Green's singing sounds in the live setting, as even when his voice is the only presence (such as in the spectacular solo track "Comin' Home"), it encompasses every inch of the room. This is intense in a really intimate and personal way, and much to my amazement, the number of people attempting to capture clips and photos of it is countable with one hand (one of whom belongs to our staff...). Green notices this, too, commenting after "We Found Each Other in the Dark" that people are too pre-occupied with angles and cropping photos and video of concerts these days to fully lose ourselves in music, and then asking us not to film or photograph the electrifying "Sleeping Sickness".

Though the concert winds to a conclusion at nearly two hours, I am never struck with boredom, or caught restless. This is a show laced with highlights, culminating for me in my personal favourite "Fragile Bird" before "Sorrowing Man" closes the ordinary set. In fact my only grievance in terms of the selection of songs is "The Girl" at the beginning of the two-song encore. I know this is a song loved by many, but to me, its immediacy and radio friendly nature sound a little out of place amidst the otherwise muted and melancholy material. As you might expect, then, I leave the show in a high mood, City and Colour having delivered exactly what I'd hoped and more. I hope it will not be too long before another opportunity to watch them live presents itself.

Setlist:

  • Forgive Me
  • Of Space and Time
  • The Lonely Life
  • The Grand Optimist
  • As Much as I Ever Could
  • Silver and Gold
  • Weightless
  • Day Old Hate
  • Body in a Box
  • Comin' Home
  • Save Your Scissors
  • We Found Each Other in the Dark
  • Sleeping Sickness
  • The Golden State
  • Waiting...
  • Thirst
  • Fragile Bird
  • Sorrowing Man

--Encore--

  • The Girl
  • Two Coins

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