City and Colour Serenades the Jube

17 years after his solo debut, his musings are as stirring as ever.

Dallas Green performing on stage a Hawaiian-style button-down in pine tree print and a felt Panama hat.

Photo by Josh Platt.

City and Colour Live at the Jubilee in Calgary

Who: City and Colour
Where: Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary
When: Mon., Nov. 22
Vibe: A happy-go-lucky crowd wearing lots of denim, plaid and flat-brim hats give strong “I love to camp” energy while sipping beer, singing along and entrusting Dallas Green with their emotions for the evening.
Highlight: When seven sparkling chandeliers descend from the ceiling and illuminate the warmth of Green’s presence. As the audience sings the words to Coming Home, the airy two-tier auditorium feels intimate.
Next: Massey Hall, Toronto, Dec. 9, 10, 11, 12, 14

“Be my baby daddy!” a woman in the crowd feverishly cries as her voice goes hoarse. Though City and Colour — a.k.a. St. Catharines, ON, native Dallas Green — has been around for nearly 20 years, the fandom is still as strong — and thirsty — as ever. Despite the buttoned-up Jubilee Auditorium setting of City and Colour’s Monday night show in Calgary, the audience is drinking beer on tap from plastic cups and certain members are feeling as rowdy as ever.

The moment Green steps up to the mic, the sound of his recognizably svelte croon cuts through the room. It commands silence. There’s a powerful quality to its softness: it instantly transports to the fresh wounds he felt while writing the song, no matter if it was released with 2005’s Sometimes or 2019’s A Pill For Loneliness.

Among teen girls in Calgary in the late aughts/early 2010s, it was considered to be somewhat of a personality trait to be obsessed with City and Colour and his YYC singer-songwriter equivalent, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald (“MBF” to his fans). A sizeable portion of the audience is these girls, now women. This explains the drunken “baby daddy” outburst and the several outbreaks of jokingly sexual “ooh”s and “aah”s. Kind of awkward, but Green takes it in stride and pokes some fun.

“There’s always about seven of you in the crowd making comments while the rest of you sit there like this,” he laughs, feigning a scared straight expression, “you wouldn’t dare.”

His crowd interaction is frequent but not self-indulgent. He shares the folklore behind some of his classics — stories of being on the road as an “emotional young man” before anybody showed up to his performances, and Body In A Box, a song about the funeral of his late cousin Nicholas. Green tells everyone he’s tired of his music being tagged as “miserable” by critics — despite the tragic subject matter, he tells the crowd, that song is joyous.

But mostly, the chat is minimal — he mainly uses monosyllabic words like, “this one’s about love” and “this one’s about a dream.” There’s no need for elaborate backstories. The way he leaves his soul on the stage while performing says it all and alludes to his superpower: crafting music that anyone can see themselves in.

Green does it all wearing a Hawaiian-style button-down in pine tree print and a felt Panama hat. It seems this chapeau is a prerequisite to performing this evening — country opener Spencer Burton sports one and so does Green’s sole accompanying multi-instrumentalist, Matt Kelly. Though they’re almost comically fulfilling the folk-rock, acoustic singer-songwriter type, I’ve got to be honest: they look pretty good. It suits them.

Throughout the night, Green brings the audience to near tears and incites a few hardcore fans to dance during his 2005 classic Coming Home. Despite performing in a multi-story, nearly at-capacity venue, Green takes the crowd for an intimate and magical ride.

Black and white photo of Dallas Green performing onstage with one spotlight shining down on him.

Photo by Josh Platt.

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