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Winter has come way too early to South-Eastern Australia this year, and by the sea was the last place I would usually want to be on a frigid Wednesday evening. On this particular night, however, the short tram ride out of the Melbourne CBD to St.Kilda’s charming Palais Theatre would be well and truly worth it, with City & Colour adding warmth to the first of two sold-out performances. The venue itself is an odd one for concerts: an all-seated bona fide theatre which plays home to everything from stage-shows to film festivals, and from comedians to rock gigs. Usually, I’d prefer my venues a little more – shall we say – beer-soaked, but complementing one of the world’s truly great voices with the acoustics of a high ceiling & some beautiful architecture (which was brought to life by a genuinely unexpected light-show) seemed very appropriate… Even if a portion of the strange cross-section of folk and hardcore fans may not have seen an actual theatre in their lives!

First up this evening would be the act known as Bahamas – aka 31 year old Toronto singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen. Having just joined the touring City & Colour quintet as lead guitarist, Jurvanen casually paces out all by his lonesome tonight, with nothing but an acoustic guitar, his voice and a spotlight. In front of a half-capacity audience, he initially seems uncomfortable, taking two or three songs to truly find his rhythm and win over a crowd who most likely had no idea who he was. His stripped-down and languidly paced brand of indie-folk adds further emphasis to his above-average lyrics, which he eventually begins to explain as the half hour set goes on. At one stage, he asks us to imagine where the backing band would come in, even giving spectators a nod or a raised guitar to emphasize such timing. Overall, it was a fitting, if understated performance to kick off proceedings.

For those yet to experience Bahamas, here is a live version of his track ‘I Got You Babe’ (no, it’s not a Sonny & Cher cover)… Just try to imagine him with an acoustic guitar, no back-up singers & no drummer. I’ll give you a nod at the appropriate times (Davey nods as soon as you press ‘play’).

Arriving on stage as a quintet, I was immediately taken aback by Dallas Green’s positioning stage left. I couldn’t help but recall the similar post he took up when I had seen him play in post-hardcore outfit Alexisonfire, and wondered if he quite simply did not enjoy the spotlight. Located next to a stool which was solely used for the purpose of balancing his beer, Green clearly had no confidence issues when it came to his voice; a glorious instrument in itself which would shine brightest no matter what the musical accompaniment. As it turned out, there were no showmanship issues either… Any reported hiccups circa City & Colour being a side-project were long gone, with Green handling a couple of hecklers with aplomb, and earning genuine laughs with his casual observations of current Australian happenings.

Beginning with ‘We Found Each Other in the Dark’, the setlist was predominantly one up & one down in terms of tempo. Early highlights included 2008 single ‘Sleeping Sickness’, a touching version of new single ‘The Grand Optimist’, and a surprisingly raucous ‘Weightless’; which proved this would not be your average acoustic show. To that extent, Green would regularly swap between acoustic and electric guitars, allowing Jurvanen to finally show his own electric chops. Mid-set, however, his accompanying band would depart to allow Green to rekindle memories of the projects formative years. ‘Day Old Hate’, a “no phones allowed” ‘Body In a Box’, ‘Sam Malone’ and a crowd assisted ‘What Makes a Man’ perfectly led into fan favorite ‘The Girl’, with the crowd silent & captivated throughout the solo portion of the performance. Not wanting the audience to forget that City & Colour were now a fully-formed outfit, the full band really revved up upon their return. ‘Little Hell’, ‘Fragile Bird’ and ‘Sorrowing Man’ were all superb, with Green’s voice during the climax to the latter an all-time vocal highlight for this attendee!

And what of the “band”? Well, it’s fair to say that they are more workmanlike than show stealing. Occasionally, Jurvanan would steal a glance with a fancy lick, while a daggy looking pedal steel player will always garner some (what the hell is he doing?) interest. The fantastic thing – and one of the night’s most pleasant surprises – is the way in which the quieter periods of the evening seamlessly meshed with the more band-focused tunes. An argument could be made that some of the louder moments weren’t the best way to showcase an individual song or two, and unfortunately resulted in very little tunes from debut LP ‘Sometimes’ being played. However, not only did this approach provide variety, but it also allowed Green to figuratively take center stage, truly testing his wonderful voice and not just going through the motions. In the end, however, it was no test, with Green’s vocals truly a thing to splendor. And if an exclamation point for the evening was required, it was provided come the two song encore; the gentle, catchy melody of ‘Comin’ Home’ followed by the beautiful build-up of ‘Hope For Now’, which provided the apt closing lyrics of:

“Oh when I sing all that I can sing

Maybe just for a moment things would seem all right.

Oh when I sing, oh when I sing”.





Deviant.
05.10.12
Daveyboy hinting at his love for a fine pub?

What a revelation!

DaveyBoy
05.10.12
Well, we did get to the surrounding area early to have a couple of pints before-hand.

Storm In A Teacup
05.10.12
Great write-up, good sir! I would have thought they'd do one or two AoF songs, but I suppose they want it to be about them. Which I have no problem with at all, C&C just isn't my cup of tea. I have only heard the first two albums though.

DaveyBoy
05.10.12
Thanks SiaT. He did a fantastic cover of 'Happiness is a Kilowatt' on his live cd, and I know he has covered 'Boiled Frogs' a handful of times in the past, but I think it's the exception rather than the rule.

Storm In A Teacup
05.10.12
I've seen the 'Boiled Frogs' cover, which is why I expected a "cover". Probably due to City having more material now too, I'd bet. I love his voice, I just could never get into this which is a shame.

DaveyBoy
05.10.12
Yeah, definitely... Not that they would be by any means set-fillers, but there isn't a need to pad out a set now that C&C (not the music factory) has released 3 LPs.

CrackTheSkye
05.10.12
Good write up, Davey.

Saw this concert on Tuesday. Bahamas got a really good response from the crowd, both from his songs/banter, which is quite the achievement for a Brisbane indie crowd.

The C&C set was great too. We got the same setlist, but there was a cover before Hope For Now. The way he handle all the things people yelled out to him was quite funny and his views on people with cameras was great too. Not sure if I would go see their set again despite how good it was.

Captain North
05.10.12
Surprised he didnt play O'Sister since it got a lot o airplay on Triple J. But yeah super bummed I forgot he was touring

klap
05.10.12
setlist fm is the greatest site in the music world

DaveyBoy
05.10.12
Thanks CtS. I think we may have been the 1st Oz gig they did, so it wouldn't have even surprised me if Afie was a little bit nervous. Even the theatre may have initially got to him, but he worked his way nicely into the set. Ahhh, so you got the hecklers too? I guess, when there are a few quiet spots between songs, then it's just too difficult for some not to open their mouths.

True Tom, but that's why I ultimately rated 'Little Hell' so highly: I think many people would have their favourite tunes on that LP. Personally, I wanted more tracks from his debut, especially '... Delaware' & 'Save Your Scissors'.

No Rudy, SputnikMusic is. YOU'RE FIRED!

Aids
05.10.12
fuck this fucking fucker for breaking up Alexisonfire

his solo stuff is good though and his live set is good too and this write-up is good too so oh well

jackalope11
05.10.12
Whaaaaaa he didn't play O Sister? I thought that was his biggest song, no?

DaveyBoy
05.11.12
There's a lot of "goods" in there Aids... But there is unfortunately one bad.

I've never really stopped to think what his/their biggest song is. Depends on the definition, I guess. I'd say 'Comin' Home'... Outside of Lincoln-Nebraska, at least.

Irving
05.11.12
Ugh so jealous!*

* By which I mean "ace write-up Davey - made me wish I was there too."

DaveyBoy
05.11.12
Making people jealous that they were not there is the benchmark for gig reviews. Even if a show is hilariously bad.

BlueW
05.11.12
They're coming to Perth on the 20th should I bother going?

Waior
05.11.12
I think 'The Girl' is their biggest...

DaveyBoy
05.12.12
BlueW, if you enjoy City & Colour's albums and thing Dallas has an exceptional voice, then yes.

I think if we as 10 people what their biggest song is, we may get 10 different answers. I just checked Canadian charting singles & the answer is surprisingly 'Waiting', just ahead of 'Fragile Bird'. And the most played song live according to setlist.fm is 'Sleeping Sickness'!

someguest
05.12.12
Green is the chillest motherfucker on the planet. Nice blog.

mastille
05.13.12
fuck this fucking fucker for breaking up Alexisonfire [2]

Okay, I tried 'Save Your Scissors' and liked it, but was very bored by the City and Colour songs I heard on last fm's AoF radio, before I knew what (who) they were

From this review though I might give Dallas another chance... but it seems like every big hardcore band these days has a meh softer side project so I dunno

DaveyBoy
05.13.12
He is pretty "chill", isn't he. Nothing seems to bother him. Although, he did seem annoyed at the success of music-based reality tv shows amongst his banter. Then again, who could blame him?

Can understand your frustration mastille. The thing is, this is no longer a side-project... & there is a reason for that.

Irving
05.13.12
"Making people jealous that they were not there is the benchmark for gig reviews. Even if a show is hilariously bad."

Yes. So keep up the good work DaveyBoy XD

DaveyBoy
05.13.12
Will do... Since I have another couple of shows to attend in the next 3 weeks.

Irving
05.13.12
*explodes in jealousy*

Who/which band will you be seeing?

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05.13.12
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05.13.12
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DaveyBoy
05.14.12
Got Florence next week & then a strange double bill in The Jezabels & Lights a couple of weeks later.

AtavanHalen
05.15.12
saw him last night in sydney

he covered kimbra

it was awesome

DaveyBoy
05.15.12
Exxxcellent. I thought he'd do a cover in Oz after covering Bic Runga in NZ, but it clearly took a few days for him to reach perfection for it.

DaveyBoy
05.16.12
Any size 14s?

DaveyBoy
06.11.12
http://www.youtube.com/user/BonnarooMusicFest

NOW. Soooo good.

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