Long before Alexisonfire called it a day, Dallas Green had started City And Colour and was making a very different kind of music. Now four albums in, what had previously been his solo side-project is bigger than his other band ever was.
And so Green, his outfit extended to a five-piece for the occasion, finds himself playing to a good few thousand people on one of Riot Fest’s biggest stages. After the horrific weather of the previous day - patches of ground near the stage that City And Colour are playing are roped off, the mud too deep and swampy to deemed safe - his breezy vibes offer a welcome slice of summer, albeit only an imagined one.
Live, Green’s voice is even more majestic than on record, sounding even more Bon Iver than Bon Iver. That’s nowhere more the case than on the forlorn and lugubrious Sleeping Sickness, its sad lilt filling the air and emptying the hearts of everyone signing along - all of whom look simultaneously grateful and wistful.
There are a few other bands who offer a brief respite from the punk rock shenanigans that dominate the weekend - not least incredible headline sets from The National and The Cure - but the time and place of this City And Colour gig couldn’t really be better. Because despite the melancholy tone of his songs, there’s also solidarity in sadness, and both Thirst and The Lonely Life shimmer with a wonderful, graceful beauty. Green does have a tendency to play too long, his gigs often lasting for over two hours and becoming something of an endurance test for those who aren’t die hard fans. But with just a 45 minute festival slot, there’s no chance of that happening. Rather, this is three-quarters of an hour in which his abilities as a songwriter, as a vocalist and as a frontman absolutely shine, and with some much-needed warmth.