CITY AND COLOUR
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard St.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.
Tickets: Sold out
Songwriting has always been a sacred emotional outlet for Dallas Green, a pressure release valve that lets the City and Colour bandleader and Alexisonfire frontman to put down on paper what he feels in his heart.
A two-time Juno Award winner for songwriter of the year, the Toronto resident is clearly a craftsman — one who takes such designations seriously. “I write with the hope that people will listen to it, but the initial idea is something I take solace in personally,” Green said. “The people that like what I do and have followed me and supported me, I think they have always heard the hopefulness in the music. It’s the people who don’t get it who dismiss me as this sad, sullen, mournful guy.”
City and Colour’s first full Canadian tour since 2019 gets underway Tuesday in Victoria, with a sold-out show at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. The 13-date tour with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Ruby Waters follows the release of City and Colour’s first album in four years, The Love Still Held Me Near, and a period of substantial change for its 43-year-old leader.
Not only did the pandemic greatly affect his ability to make a living, resulting in the cancellation of several dates on his 2021 tour, Green also lost his best friend in a tragic accident. He used songwriting as a way to push through the grief, finding hope amid the emotional chaos of the last few years. “It became a beautiful experience for me,” Green said of Meant to Be, which he wrote about his best friend and producer, Karl Bareham, who died in a scuba diving accident in Australia in 2019.
“Not only was it a way to keep myself busy during that strange time, I was in turn helping myself.”
When he first began writing songs as a teen, the emotions were implied; he could always offer something relatable, without having to dig too deep or invest too much. But as his confidence grew, so did his need to reveal, to pull back the curtain and reveal his own trauma.
“When I was in high school, I had this incredible teacher who meant the world to me, and who really helped me believe that I could give writing and performing a shot,” Green said. “He passed away a couple years after I graduated, and I wrote a song about him, called Missing. I was young when I did that, but I remember feeling this overwhelming sensation to create something out of the feeling of sadness and grief I had been experiencing.”
He soon sharpened his ability, inserting his own life into songs whenever possible. Green was always open with fans about what that entailed. Meant to Be was a career first, however. “I wouldn’t say my music is cheery,” Green said with a laugh. “But I hadn’t dealt with anything so tragic and heavy in my life, up until losing Karl. I had to decide if I was going to write openly about it, or beat around the bush.”
Green went with an open-book approach, a thread which ties together the songs on The Love Still Held Me Near. Green said he was grateful to have his bandmates in Alexisonfire, which often runs concurrently with City and Colour, for support during this time. Green played arenas in Canada last summer with Alexisonfire, in support of the band’s first album since 2015, Otherness. The album eventually won the Juno Award for rock album of the year in 2023, the 16th career nomination for Green.
He’s become skilled at balancing two wildly different musical vehicles, and no longer sees the gulf between the indie rock of City and Colour and punk-metal of Alexisonfire as notable. “We’re old dudes at this point,” Green said of his Alexisonfire bandmates, whom he’s known since he was a teenager. “We’re like a classic rock band.”
Green has the best of both worlds as an artist. Two successful projects, with separate, dedicated fanbases, ready and willing to listen. Blessed is how Green describes his current state of mind.
“Being in these two bands is more confusing for other people than it ever has been for me. I’ve always liked a lot of different styles of music. In my head, it’s just who I am. It’s what I do.”