Gig Review by Kirsty Hillyer + Gig Photography by Lee Allen

City and Colour

Before I get any haters about what opinions are to come I want to point out that I am not attending as a freeloading reviewer but as a paying, excited attendee that owns all the records.

City and Colour

I’m always gutted whenever I have missed City and Colour, not least because I have yet to see them but because Dallas always brings over good support. All I knew in advance about tonight’s support is that she is ‘some girl’. This girl is Vancouverite Hannah Georgas. To say I zoned out fairly quickly would be completely true. My head only piped up when I identified Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ beat five songs in and when I felt I had been transported to Venice to watch the filming of the old Cornetto adverts.

Hannah Georgas

I was watching a red haired Ellie Goulding sing Ladyhawke. One song was reminiscent of 80’s new Romantics and it became La Roux without the edge and catchy melodies.

After the first few songs the choral long notes made her voice feel whiny and just didn’t get you ready for the show to come. Overall the songs were very basey and the attempts at crescendo building had nothing on Caspian, whom I saw supporting Defeater in London last week, and so left me feeling flat.

Hannah Georgas

Hannah’s signature step back move and head bang made it boring to watch and as the last song ended I felt like I’d discovered a lost track off the Drive soundtrack. With only one support it felt like an eternity before the set finished.

Hannah Georgas

Feeling deflated it was time to head to the bar as we had the standard 30 mins before the main act to wait. Maybe the ensuing surly attitude of bar staff, after complaining about their ability to identify who should be served next, didn’t help get me in the mood for City and Colour. However, their intro track of a remix of Soul II Soul’s ‘Back to Life’ made me laugh, excited and ready for the show; so what went wrong for me?

City and Colour

They opened with ‘Of Space and Time’ and I deliberately hadn’t listened to ‘The Hurry and the Harm’ as I wanted to experience it live first for it to unlock the album for me. It didn’t. Opening with two tracks from the new album, as ‘Of Space and Time’ was followed up with ‘The Lonely Life’ isn’t the best start to the set. Yes, it is the tour for the new album but when it’s been a long time since you’ve played this part of the country and your last few visits to the UK have seen expensive Royal Albert Hall performances you should mix your set up a bit more and open and close with a crowd pleaser, they’re the rules right?

City and Colour

Only two songs in and the cries of ‘I LOVE YOU DALLAS’ rang out across the crowd, just before they played ‘The Grand Optimist’ from the 2008 album ‘Little Hell’.

I am a sucker for Hammond organs and steel pedal guitar, and as they were two key elements to the full band experience, how could they go wring with me? Sadly the pedal steel wasn’t balanced with any dirty double bass or hard rocking. Instead, thanks to the second guitarist it was country to the max. Play the guitar like you’re gonna break it and sing like you mean it.

City and Colour

This made me feel that the arrangement of ‘If I ever could’ sounded like it was going to be on season 2 of Nashville, especially with the lighting. There were a few moments like this as I heard songs off the new album with ‘Harder than Stone being the pinnacle of Nashville. It just left me feeling reluctant to listen to the new album. This is despite me Ioving the trashiness of Nashville and was even tempted to buy the soundtrack on sale for £4.

City and Colour

I just wasn’t anticipating a country gig, and I love going to Revival Tours. I feel like Dallas needs to have some Revival Tour therapy with Chuck Ragan and co to get some perspective.

City and Colour

Having attended a fair few acoustic gigs over the last 15 yeas it has only been within the last few that the manners of crowds seem to be unstoppably rude. Four songs in and the background noise is louder than the band.

City and Colour

Sadly there were no goose bump moments, their was a tingle when they he ditched the band to play a few tracks on his own, just the guitar and mouth organ. If Dallas hadn’t stripped down from the full band at that point I was tempted to leave, glad I didn’t as he played ‘Comin’ Home’. Sadly this only lasted for three songs, kicking it off with ‘Like Knives’.

City and Colour

It was only at this juncture did Dallas seem to engage with the audience with more than a thank you. However for anyone that will have seen him before, or own any of the live records, you will know that his call for ‘experiencing life for just one song ‘and ‘putting the phones away’ is standard issue. He did expand the dialogue, with Matrix references, new Instagram filters and a diatribe of how we will shortly be experiencing life permanently through screens. I’m paraphrasing but I was pressured into putting the phone and my notes away. The one song requiring full attention was ‘Body in the Box’ that generated whoops for ever harmonica play, creating a disconnect to the song and it’s meaning.

City and Colour

‘Comin Home’ was my only goose bump tingle it was sadly ruined by the Welsh contingent next to me “Representing for Wales’ as he sang the line about seeing a castle there. No matter how jaded I felt from the show it left many of the crowd weak at the knees, with girls crying and a womb-quivering scrawl as the acoustic element began.

City and Colour

At 10:15 I just couldn’t take anymore, but City and Colour played till 11. Having seen the set list I didn’t miss any of my favourites and was disconcerted to see that ‘Save Your Scissors’ wasn’t played. Every band has the one song, they potentially hate playing and try to avoid it at all costs, but they know they have to. It is expected to be part of the permanent roster over others. ‘Save your Scissors’ is that track for Dallas Green.

City and Colour

The band felt like body armour and a way for Dallas to keep a barrier between him and the crowd. There can be no denying that my expectation that live would sound just like a studio album was completely met. They were crazily polished but that was part of the issue. It’s a back handed compliment, I know, but just like Dallas talks of experiencing something, well I just didn’t feel like I had experienced anything other than what I could have listening on my iPod. There is no passion or vulnerability in the performance, I want to know that I have been a part of something I wouldn’t have been able to if I hadn’t bought a ticket and been here at this moment in time. You’re just too goddamn slick Mr Green, and the harmonies was consistently smooth.

City and Colour

Perhaps part of the reason I had never seen City and Colour till now was that actually I knew there was a piece missing for me and so I couldn’t be arsed to travel or be ready for the online sale. On paper we should be a 92% match, but as we know that doesn’t make for a successful relationship.

(See the complete photo set on our Flick page)

4 Responses to “City and Colour + Hannah Georgas at the O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK – 30th January 2014”

  1. Fran Says:

    First time I’ve seen Dallas Green but thought he was truly stunning, I disagree with calling it country, I thought he pleased a few more Alexisonfire fans making it more rock, with far more guitar than the usual acoustic album sound! The band backed him brilliantly, but I agree his solo moments were the pinnacle of the night, slightly gutted he didn’t play Save Your Scissors and Hello I’m in Delaware, but other than that he’s got pure soul and passion in his voice that although obvious on his albums Dallas won my heart live!

  2. NIenke Says:

    hey Kirsty,
    i think you should probably remove the claim about not being a freeloading reviewer – as i distinctly remember putting you, and the photographer Lee Allen on the guest list.

  3. Kirsty Hillyer Says:

    Hi NIenke

    Despite being the name on the guest list as the reviewer I had bought two tickets on O2 presale as I didnt want to miss the show and run the risk of not being able to review. I opted for tickets to this show over other necesseties. As stated, I have all the albums, including live ones. I have seen Alexis on Fire and have all theirs too. Dallas is a very talented man but live it just did nothing for me and I can’t lie about that. I fear another impact on my negative review was that I have been spoit by too many truly awesome gigs recently; from Slingshot Dakota and Koji supporting Into It Over It, Alcoa and Defeater which had a four full band line up for only £12 .

    The goosebumps are my gig barometer and they just were’nt firing.

    Two days after the show I went to see Inside Llewlyn Davis. In the opening scene we see llewlyn half way through performing a song. All i could think was why wasn’t C&C like this. Turbs out the person next to me had had the same thought.

    Everyone takes something different from a show. Some will feel they have had a religious experience, others will be disappointed and for some you will question why they even boight a ticket with all the chat they gave. Each to their own.

    Thanks for reading, for the guest list spots so the show could be shared.

    Kirsty

  4. Ken Harrison Says:

    Nice work guys… lovely mono pics :-)

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