City and Colour @ SaskTel Centre, Saskatoon, Canada

Words: Miljan Milekić

I remember the exact moment I first heard City and Colour. I may not know the year, or the exact geographical location, but I remember the feeling. I know it was a late night, slowly bleeding into the early morning. I know I was in the back seat of a beat-up 1997 Ford Fiesta with my friends, somewhere on a highway outside of Novi Sad, Serbia, getting back from a gig the band we had at the time played a couple of hours prior. I remember the ringing of the acoustic guitar before the first few lines of ‘Comin’ Home’ slowly crept in. I had no idea who the song was by, let alone the connection with Alexisonfire. I had no clue what or where is Saskatoon, the city I’ve been living in for the past 18 months. I only knew I was hooked. And that, probably, Lincoln, Nebraska won’t be high on my list of places to visit.

Fast forward to 2024, and it’s the first couple of chords of ‘Meant To Be,’ the opening track from last year’s masterpiece ‘The Love Still Held Me Near,’ that is slowly setting the tone for the grand, yet unusually intimate night at Saskatoon’s biggest venue, SaskTel Centre. A fairly modest stage setup, accompanied by a massive, but simplistic LED backdrop made the huge sports arena feel a little bit more like a theatre, bringing the artists and the crowd a bit closer. And apart from a few odd moments during silent songs, it worked.

With seven records under his belt, Dallas Green had lots of music to pick and choose from, varying in tone, genre, and atmosphere, and he did it exceptionally, commanding the stage for every moment of the set. Jumping between emo and folk, alternative and classic rock, Green and his band managed to keep the dynamic of the show, balancing delicate nuances between different tempos, noise levels, and emotions. Always emotions. ‘Runaway’ and ‘Thirst’ raised the heart rate of everyone in the crowd. The rumbling, distorted bass of ‘Two Coins’ was a perfect contrast to the mellowness of ‘The Love Still Held Me Near,’ only to be dispersed moments later by the quiet beauty of ‘We Found Each Other in the Dark.’ 

‘Weightless,’ another of the crowd favorites raised the atmosphere once more, just before the band kicked into ‘Underground,’ potentially the biggest song from last year’s record that got the band on the road again. “This is a song about being right here, right now!” Green exclaimed before kicking it off, a reminder that seems so redundant, but so necessary in this day and age. A few more slow songs followed, including ‘Astronaut,’ followed by haunting projections of the space on the backdrop, and another obvious fan-favorite in the form of ‘Hello, I’m in Delaware,’  before the band slid into an insanely powerful version of ‘Bow Down to Love.’ Green’s scream, followed by visuals of exploding lava behind him made a perfect crescendo before the band got off the stage, albeit only for a few moments.

The encore started slowly with a stripped-down version of ‘The Girl,’ followed by ‘Comin’ Home,’ the song that made the crowd in Saskatoon go crazy on THAT part, spiced up in the end by a snippet of legendary Alexisonfire hit ‘This Could Be Anywhere in the World.’ ‘Lover Come Back’ saw the return of the whole band on the stage. The very end was reserved for another of Green’s masterpieces – ‘Sleeping Sickness’ which once again saw the crowd go crazy. In, what I believe was a tribute to the late Gord Downie, his verse of the song was left almost entirely to the crowd, with the stage lights discretely focusing on an empty microphone at the centre of the stage, making the song even more emotional, before the band stepped down from the stage, this time for the night.

The night, however, wasn’t entirely up to City and Colour. The opening slot of the night was reserved for upcoming Canadian singer Ruby Waters, who we sadly missed due to a combination of day jobs and an early start on Wednesday night, and guests from the USA – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, the band I didn’t know too much about, that plays music that’s so outside of what I normally find my self listening to. Fair enough, the band did deliver a great, high-energy set which I believe their fans – and there were quite a few of them, will definitely be happy about.

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