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A solo City and Colour is enough to fill an Amphitheatre

August 31st, 2010

Though most of the big draw rock-fests were nestled firmly away in other cities, Toronto, blessed with amazing outdoor weather this summer, has gone music crazy. Indeed, without even the safe confines of my media tickets, I too managed to spend well over $1,000 in concert stubs to be added to my collection later.

So it was no surprise then to stroll into the Amphitheater on sizzling hot Saturday night and find the venue packed from front-to-back. Even the night before, Ray La Montagne and David Gray, had no such blessing, as the lawn section was not open. Consider it a nod to Canadian rock artists then that people are willing and able to support. I like the idea of it anyway.

The Molson Amphitheater is a worthy venue for concerts like this, and on a night like this you are glad to be outside. Inside the venue with a refreshment in hand I was able to focus on the night ahead with Ra Ra Riot from Syracuse, New York, and east-coasters Wintersleep both playing warm-up slots; we are not at the co-headliner portion of the evening.

With opening act Tegan and Sara I personally feel that I never know what to expect, but I am usually very impressed. They have come a long way in their songwriting and sound and I find myself a lot more into their newer material than anything of the past. That being said, they can definitely craft a tune and their set-list was littered with ditties and tracks that ooze familiarity, even if you can’t seem to place the song.

Their interaction with the crowd was top-notch and between numbers the duo found time to share a number of witty anecdotes, tales and even aspirations, at one point pointing out, “you are about to see why I should have taken dance classes”. All in all, the crowd received them very well and their ability to evoke laughter only enforced the connection that had been made. They way the sisters sing together and support one anothers vocals was sublime. I sorely wished they had played a little longer. But overall I was very content and from the chorus of applaud, I was clearly not the only one.

Dallas Green, aka City and Colour, was next onto the block, bringing with him his musical alter-ego of stripped down acoustic genius and ballad-tastic repertoire that rivals any modern day troubadour. A complete flip side to Alexisonfire, Dallas’s other musical vehicle, City and Colour’s angst and pain throb melodically with a folk guitar theme. Although the majority of the work screams of the forlorn, there remains a number of more positive and upbeat (if you will) songs that have become sing-along hits; such as ‘The Girl’ an ode to the former MuchMusic VJ (and Dallas’s wife), Leah Miller.

Although a powerful and thought-evoking set, it was difficult to indulge in ballad after ballad, specifically after the energy emitted from Tegan & Sarah. Without a doubt though, if you are a City and Colour fan through and through than you knew what to expect and therefore, would have found the show pleasing from start to end. A small cameo from elite Canadian rocker Gord Downey added a little spice to the routine, but for the most part, the set was the kind you find yourself nuzzled against someone else, sharing the emotion. And as I looked around, that seemed to be the norm. Kudos to you Dallas, as a one-man acoustic act the Amphitheater are big shoes to fill, and you did a pretty fine job, ballads and all.

Review and photos by Simon Jain.

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