The City and Colour concert Sunday at Prospera Place in Kelowna was a blues smorgasbord, but no one went home blue from this three-and-a-half-hour marathon.
Opener Ben Rogers is a country rock/blues/Americana artist from Vancouver while second opener Jacob Banks is a rhythm-and-blues/soul singer/songwriter from Nigeria who relocated to Birmingham, England.
City and Colour is the alias, if you will, for Dallas Green of St. Catharines, Ont. The Juno Award winner came up with the moniker for his first full-length album in 2005 — Dallas is a city and green is a colour — because he felt uneasy putting the album (“Sometimes”) out under his own name.
His blues style is slow and melodic — with many of his melodies similar — in sharp contrast to his previous five-piece Canadian post-hardcore band, Alexisonfire.
Green now has an unusual performance style. His primary microphone is raised almost to forehead level so Green has to tilt his head back to reach it, and then he stares up at the rafters or closes his eyes. A second bulky mic is lower, but the sound is almost indistinguishable from the first.
The full five-piece-band sound does have a keyboard drone, which often overpowered the other instruments, especially Green’s vocals. So the highlight of his 90-minute set was undoubtedly Green’s solos, his distinctive falsetto similar to Neil Young while playing acoustic guitar.
His mid-concert solos, “Northern Wind” and “Little Hell,” were greeted with sustained cheers, and two of the three numbers in the three-song encore — “Body in a Box” and “The Girl” — were pure magic.
The “Body in a Box” lyric about a funeral procession — “Searching for the light” — of course brought out dozens of cellphone lights.
The band finale of “Sleeping Sickness” brought out the City and Colour chorus for “Someone come and, someone come and save my life.”
The stage lighting was unusual, with dozens of spotlights at multiple levels including three banks raised and lowered over the stage in all red, all blue and all white.
Rogers launched his too-short set with “Steady Going Nowhere” and the memorable lyrics: “I have danced with death so often, I can teach you all the steps.” As latecomers flooded into the downtown arena, Rogers made sure everyone knew who he was by introducing himself between almost every song.
His bombastic presentation was in sharp contrast to Banks. Think of Seal, the British soul singer, musician and songwriter.
Banks’s animated performance style is theatrical, with lots of body language, often with his eyes closed. As he croons, especially the sustained notes, there is no denying his passion and sincerity.
With the concert underway from 7 to 10:30 p.m., no doubt many in the crowd were thankful Monday was the Remembrance Day holiday.
Of note, City and Colour is donating $1 from every ticket sold to Indspire (indspire.ca) to build a brighter future for Indigenous students and to MusiCounts (musicounts.ca), putting musical instruments into the hands of kids who need them most.