Words, music tranfix crowd at City and Colour concert

Dallas Green’s songs of love and death cast a trance-like spell on 2,500 fans at his City and Colour concert at Red Deer’s Centrium.

Dallas Green’s songs of love and death cast a trance-like spell on 2,500 fans at his City and Colour concert at Red Deer’s Centrium.

Sporting his trademark brimmed hat, the Ontario musician started singing Woman alone with his guitar on Monday night. A spectacular light show erupted as four backup musicians joined him on stage.

White beams from four overhead tracks began spinning at impressive angles. A moody feeling was created as Green started singing in falsetto about the kind of love that outlasts the world.

Perfectly melding his vocals with the instrumentation, Green rarely veered from a mellow vibe.

His series of atmospheric soul/pop tunes were performed under different lighting effects — a wash of aqua and blue for Northern Blues, peach and green for Two Coins and deep red for The Grand Optimist. But all of the songs were delivered in similarly slow tempo by Green standing mid-stage with his guitar.

There’s no question his dark-edged emo music was embraced by the crowd. Many fans mouthed every word — even Green’s rather morbid lyrics to If I Should Go Before You (“into the great unknown, I’ll leave my ghost right beside you, you won’t have to wait alone …”)

But at some point, probably after Killing Time, Hello, I’m in Delaware, and Wasted Love, it all got a little monotonous — despite the dazzling lights that occasionally blinded the audience (presumably to wake the sleepyheads).

While Green could do no wrong, according to his devoted followers, the rest of us could have used more song variety — and more interesting banter than his thank yous.

A couple of songs were introduced later in the show, including, We Found Each Other In the Dark (“about trying to be nice to each other”), and Comin’ Home (“Nothing makes me as happy as touring the country with a guitar and a song.”) And the tempo eventually picked up enough to get some girls dancing during the more upbeat Lover Come Back and Sleeping Sickness. Some arms were even slowly waved in the air during Waiting …

There were transcendent moments in which the sheer beauty of Green’s songs sufficed — including the darkly gorgeous A Body in a Box and the romantic The Girl.

But the best thing about the City and Colour concert was that a mild, not-at-all-wild, singer/songwriter could completely transfix so many young people with the power of just his words and music.

Texas musician Shakey Graves opened with a backup trio that also had something to say about love and death.

Blending a cowboy attitude with murky atmospherics, Graves (a.k.a Alejandro Rose-Garcia) painted evocative pictures with his toe-tapping, rootsy tunes.

Suggesting someone died in Red Deer’s hockey arena (“If you’re very quiet, you can still hear him …”), he launched into his clap-along song, Dearly Departed that features the lyrics “you and I both know the house is haunted … and the ghost is me.” Another terrific tune was To Cure What Ails.

Before exiting, Graves thanked the crowd for being “absolutely stupendous … This is the first time I played an arena of any sort.”

It won’t be the last.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com