Tagged: music

Gin Wigmore: New Single & GIRLGANG

The sultry, gravel voiced New Zealand singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore returns with her defiant new single, ‘Hallow Fate’ and simultaneously launches GIRLGANG a collaborative project focusing on music and art…

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Written and produced by Gin Wigmore and Steve Rusch, ‘Hallow Fate’ is the first single taken from her forthcoming album. Launching in conjunction with the release of the new song is GIRLGANG – an exciting new collaborative project that combines both art and music and focuses on female empowerment and partnership. Wigmore has hand selected five artists to create exclusive and original pieces inspired by five songs from her new album.

The first GIRLGANG pairing sees Gin collaborating with San Diego tattoo artist Briana Sargent who created a tattoo inspired by ‘Hallow Fate’, her love of vibrant colours and the spirit of California.

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Over the next eight months, Gin will release five songs taken from her upcoming fourth album, each one a collaboration with a different female artist. Gin personally chose the artists and assigned them a song for them to use as inspiration for their creations. The GIRLGANG project is designed to highlight and celebrate fellow women and to find a new way to have an experience and connection with music through a variety of artistic formats.

‘Hallow Fate’ is available worldwide now. Download/stream it HERE.

Music Review: Seasick Steve at Wembley

Casual music lover Harry Casey-Woodward was lucky enough to see bearded bluesman Seasick Steve playing in our merry capital at Wembley Stadium…

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Apart from Elvis, there is perhaps no other musician who embodies the American dream than Seasick Steve. In particular, he embodies the mythical spirit of American freedom, that gets lost on highways and hitches on trains. In October, this big-bearded icon graced our shores with a one-off show.

After fruitlessly circling the wrong Wembley arena, me and my companion found the right venue. We were introduced by Steve himself on a giant screen to his support act, a two-man band named Black Dog Revelation. They sounded like a gnarly Black Keys with slow snarling songs powered by thunderous drums.

After they rocked the house, we were treated to a video of Steve driving up to the venue in a tractor before he walked on stage to deafening applause. He started off with some politics, voicing his disapproval of Trump before opening his set with a hushed Dylanesque solo song.

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Steve and his small handful of musicians then proceeded to turn the cavernous venue into a warm, cosy atmosphere. Steve was as relaxed as if he was playing in your front room. The lighting helped too. The stage was backlit by simple but pleasant fairy lights, draped as if over a tree. The most striking lighting was used when Steve played solo songs like ‘Treasures’. One spotlight would light him up in the middle of the dark venue, making him look dramatically humble.

Humble is something Steve is very good at. More than once, he asked for the spotlights to sweep his cheering audience and appeared constantly stunned at their adoration. He came close to tears when he expressed gratitude for his slot on the Jools Holland show that got him exposure.

He was also good at being kickass during his louder songs like ‘Thunderbird’. He and his giant bearded drummer lost themselves in colossal solos as they thrashed their instruments, even the homemade ones Steve expressed fondness for like his Diddley Bo.

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His most stunning performance was when he pulled a random woman from the crowd and played her a tender rendition of ‘Walkin’ Man’. The lucky lass looked as if she would melt from tearful gratitude.

Other ladies who joined Steve onstage included a singing guitarist from Glasgow who played a cover of a Steve song she had already done on YouTube, which Steve had admired. There was also a gifted filly on the fiddle and a talented square dancer who could tap along to Steve’s songs with her shoes.

The gig ended with Steve being given a cake, showing us a picture of his tractor and playing ‘Dog House Boogie’, which took a while to finish since he forced his drummer to repeat faster and faster endings.

So despite drunken calls of ‘Steeeeeeve-oooooh’ and one or two fights (one of which broke out in front of our seats) the gig was an evening of musical magic and thrilling musicianship. It was also a pleasure to be in the company of such a character like Seasick Steve.

Images from bluesmagazine.nl.

Music Review: Slaves, ‘Take Control’

Harry Casey-Woodward, hobbyist reviewer and noise lover, reviews the new album by Kent punk duo Slaves, Take Control.

Slaves, Take Control, 2016, Virgin/EMI, 4/5

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Slaves are something British music has needed for a while. We’ve had plenty of cool noise-making bands over recent years, but none have been as fun or direct as Isaac Holman on drums and Laurie Vincent on strings, both gleefully roaring their sharp, hilarious lyrics on working class problems. Hot on the heels of their official debut last year Are You Satisfied?, Slaves’ second album Take Control came out at the end of this September, sporting a florescent cover painted by the guitarist.

Their previous album was a hard act to follow. Catchy, exhilarating and ballsy, it was surely the Never Mind the Bollocks of 2015. I was a little worried therefore that Slaves would fall into the pattern that ensnares a lot of noisy bands and just spend their careers replicating their first album over and over. Thankfully, while the style of the new album is still very much Slaves, it is a bit of a different creature.

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For one thing, there’s more songs. Some admittedly are random skits, but Take Control also has a greater range of styles and thus feels like a bigger project. Are You Satisfied was a compact burst of shout-along joy rides, while Take Control boasts a little more sophistication, musically and lyrically.

That still doesn’t mean it isn’t fun though. Take opening track ‘Spit it Out’. It may not be a cover of Slipknot’s awesome single but it is a contender for best single of the year, mainly because it’s such a perfect punk anthem. Making brilliant use of the quiet/loud song dynamic that made bands like Nirvana sound great, repetitive jabbing guitar builds up to a roaring chorus, where the singer screams the song title over and over. The other lyrics reflect themes Slaves have raged about on several songs, namely getting lads off their arses and doing something with their lives.

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Other current topics Slaves attack on Take Control include mundane media (on such rollercoaster tracks as ‘Hypnotised’) and material wealth (see the blistering ‘Rich Man’). Once again Slaves prove themselves masters of the punk rock formula: fast, simple topical bullets of humorous anger. However, there is more of the sophisticated side that peeked through the energetic blast of Are You Satisfied.

Half of the tracks are as post-punk as Public Image. Songs like ‘Lies’ sound like catchy but creepy pop hits, with slow, menacing riffs. Even the vocal mix sounds more post-punk. While Isaac was shouting in your face before, now his charismatic voice sounds like it was recorded in an empty concrete room, giving it a spooky echo while losing none of its edge.

Beastie Boy Mike D of all people even supplies rap on the thundering ‘Consume or be Consumed’. Joined by Baxter Dury, Slaves also reveal a sensitive side on the tender ‘Steer Clear’, where the singer begs someone he cares about not to go drink driving after an argument. Once again, Slaves have produced a winning combination of subtlety and savage bluntness while upping their game.

Images from gigslutz.co.uk, greatescapefestival.com and theguardian.com.

Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘The Getaway’

Harry Casey-Woodward, casual reviewer, gives his opinions on the latest album from one of California’s most popular exports, funk rock extraordinaires the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway, 2016, 3/5 

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Love them or hate them, you can’t deny the Chili Peppers have had an eclectic sound. There is the joke that in order to write a Chili Peppers hit you just chuck the word ‘California’ in somewhere, but the band have gone through several dramatic transformations throughout their extraordinary career.

In the 80s and 90s, they were a drug-crazed, sex-crazed, fiery funk/punk power machine. That all changed with the 1999 Californication album, when the band started sounding more mellow and mature. Unfortunately, since then they may have gone too mellow. The worst of their recent music, from such guilty albums as Stadium Arcadium and I’m With You, is just radio-ready soft rock.

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This year’s record The Getaway confirmed my suspicions that it would be another mild Chili Peppers offering. But does that make it bad? By the Way fans will be pleased to know that the band have returned to the cool melancholy that characterised that 2002 album rather than the slick, mindless joy of Stadium Arcadium. Some of the Getaway tracks are still funky rock-outs like ‘We Turn Red’, though of course they’re not as heavy as old songs like ‘Suck My Kiss’.

However, what the album lacks in ‘ooomph’, it makes up for with cool sophistication. Some of the tracks, like epic single ‘Dark Necessities’, even reminded me slightly of the Talking Heads‘ cool art funk. Of course, the Peppers have yet to lose their gift of writing supremely catchy tunes and the chorus of ‘Necessities’ is sure to still appeal to anguished youth: ‘you don’t know my mind/you don’t know my kind/dark necessities are part of my design.’

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The band have also added new elements to their music. Along with the formidable talents of the original members, a few tracks are driven by synth. I wasn’t sure about this at first, since it sounded like the band were moving further from their rock roots and embracing current musical trends just to fit in. But the synths are used to great effect, especially on the title track which uses throbbing beats for a jerky rhythm a la Gang of Four. Contrasted with Anthony Kiedis’s seductive vocals, what we get is an eerie but danceable album opener. Elsewhere a string quartet, a vocal choir and even piano by Elton John all build up lush, textured songs that bridge the line between rock and pop.

So it may not be a Blood Sugar Sex Magik or even a Californication. But it’s a relief that the Peppers made an album that doesn’t make you cringe. I’m surprised at how much I enjoy it. It’s a groovy, moody masterpiece with a little sparkle that’s perfect for dancing and chilling to this summer, or blasting out of your camper van as you cruise down the highway or whatever hip kids are doing these days.

Images from redhotchilipeppers.com.

Music Review: The Hotelier

Our Music Writer Amber had the chance to catch The Hotelier’s final show of their European tour with Rozwell Kid and Into it Over it, at The Bodega in Nottingham ahead of the release of their new album ‘Goodness‘…

Opening with ‘Goodness Pt.2’ from their latest album ‘Goodness’ it was incredible to hear Christian Holden’s vocals open up the set, accompanied only by Sam Frederick’s drumming. This track opened the set in such a beautiful way, then they moved into ‘Piano Player’. They swiftly picked up the pace with ‘In Framing’ from the incredible ‘Home, Like NoPlace Is There’, which brought some difficult subjects to the crowd who simply responded by singing the lyrics. It was clear from the sold-out show that the themes in their songs resonate with a lot of people. The iconic ‘Your Deep Rest’ created a choir in the crowd as they were singing ‘I called in sick to your funeral’.

‘Among The Wildflowers’ continued and as the band brought the track to the audience they changed it with screams, heaving with desperation that reflected the song ‘Life In Drag’ that followed.

‘Soft Animal’ continued the poignant tone, every sound in the room was silenced as Holden sang ‘make me feel alive, make me believe that all my selves align’ before breaking into ‘Weathered’ from The Hotelier’s first album ‘It Never Goes Out’ from 2011.

‘Sun’ settled the crowd into a calm – to me this really is the most beautiful and organic track. It has a subtlety that makes it clear just how much work and understanding goes into the breadth and timing of their songs. It’s interesting how the space and the quiet makes The Hotelier such an outstanding band with a raw live performance that could have been so easily fleeting.

‘An Introduction To The Album’ is emphasised with the echoing crowd and begins to end the set with ‘The Scope of All of This Rebuilding’. Closing with ‘Dendron’ was perfect. It showed how the band can word difficult moments and ideas, bringing the crowd to a frenzy of fists and screaming.

The Hotelier have this incredible talent of delivering an engaging set that will always resonate with the audience, but at the same time they are able to hold back to create a striking live performance.

Gig Review: Future of the Left

Hobbyist writer Harry Casey-Woodward recently saw Cardiff post-hardcore rockers Future of the Left, as they promoted their latest album at the Electric Ballroom in Camden…

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If you haven’t heard of Future of the Left, you should have. They are very entertaining and sometimes scary to listen to. I reviewed their latest album already on this blog, The Peace and Truce of Future of the Left, released in April this year. To celebrate, they held a gig on the 21st of that month at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, because they like it there apparently.

I still think the new songs miss some of the spark of the older stuff, but I’ve seen the band live before and it was such a thundering sweaty experience I gladly bought tickets again. As the band’s singer/guitarist Andrew Falkous said, they want their gigs to be ‘bludgeoning‘ assaults. They are certainly worth seeing for their outrageous levels of noise, attitude and energy alone.

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I wish I could say what the support bands (Right Hand Left Hand and The St. Pierre Snake Invasion) were like. Unfortunately me and my companions failed to drag ourselves away from Camden’s Black Heart in time. When we arrived at the venue for Future’s slot, my first impressions of the Electric Ballroom were very big and purple. It felt like being at an ant party inside a hollowed out grape.

Apparently it was the band’s biggest headline gig yet and they didn’t disappoint, despite being reduced to a three-man lineup recently after extra guitarist Jimmy Watkins left. I was intrigued however to see a new unknown guitarist accompanying Falco, his bass-playing wife Julia Ruzicka and drummer Jack Egglestone throughout the set. They were even joined by two other strangers for one new song ‘In a Former Life’, who provided backing chants for the chorus.

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I was delighted when the band opened with ‘Kept by Bees’ a drum-fuelled slow burning non-single off their first album Curses, which was a rarity for their current sets. They then slipped into the storming powerhouse of ‘Arming Eritrea’, the opener of their second album Travels with Myself and Another, which got the crowd pumping. It was nice to see their new songs get just as good reactions as synth-heavy favourites ‘Manchasm’ and ‘You Need Satan More Than He Needs You’. I was underwhelmed by the new songs on first listen, but they were thrilling and powerful live and I roared along to the lyrics with everyone else. To add further excitement, the set was peppered with songs from Falco’s last band mclusky, including the joyous non-single ‘Gareth Brown Says’ which was also a rare treat.

Falco was his usual top form as a performer, switching from mid-song stand up to screaming himself hoarse. He also enjoyed the immense positivity from the audience, thanking everyone for giving a bigger turnout than Leeds. He also declared if anyone didn’t like the new album they could f*** off, and that attitude sums up the band for me. They haven’t enjoyed the successes of other lesser bands, but they’re still stubbornly producing their exhilarating, defiantly distinctive music after nine years and thank Christ for that.

Images from pollythomas.co.uk.

Music Review: Future of the Left, ‘The Peace and Truce of Future of the Left’

Hobbyist reviewer Harry Casey-Woodward reviews the new album by Welsh alternative post-punk rockers Future of the Left

Future of the Left, The Peace & Truce of Future of the Left, 2016, Prescriptions Records, 3/5 

Sebastian-Nevols-_-Future-of-the-Left-1In the early 2000s, under the flood of emo and floppy indie bands, a little Welsh band named mclusky were roaring deranged but hilarious lyrics over furious but exhilarating riffs. When they disbanded, singer and guitarist Andrew Falkous put together another band, Future of the Left, who are just as loud but with a bit more thought to song structure. Despite never hitting the mainstream, Falco and co are still charging on and have just released a new album this April.

Despite being called Peace & Truce, these themes sound like the last things on the band’s minds when recording the album. Each song is typical of the band’s sound: stabbing vocals and guitar over thunderous, almost funky bass and drums. Falco screeches more surreal lyrics referencing various aspects of culture, which don’t make much sense but are somehow catchy and entertaining. One song, for example, is called ‘White Privelege Blues’.

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I was excited about this new album, especially after the band’s last record in 2013, How to Stop your Brain in an Accident. Falco’s brand of punk has always been louder and more creative than the efforts of other bands, and this creativity was taken to almost epic heights on the last album. So I was excited enough to contribute to the band’s Pledge campaign and get a copy of the new album in return, plus a mini-album of excess songs.

I’m ashamed to say, however, that I didn’t think much of the album on the first few listens. To be fair, the album doesn’t quite have the same spark as previous work. While the last LP was an entertaining blend of aggression, pop and bizarre experimentation, the songs of Peace & Love are all straight forward post-punk rockers clocking under three minutes. This makes an intense but not a massively interesting album.

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At least, that’s what I thought at first. But like the band’s other albums, the nonsense verses and booming riffs have a habit of creeping into your head and you suddenly find yourself singing such lines as ‘the gammon on the bed was fine Danny’ at every waking moment.

The band’s genius ability to make unsettling but catchy punk rock for the 21st century is still very present. The songs, which at first meshed together, do deliver a mild range. There are cool punky bites like ‘Grass Parade’ and ‘Proper Music’ in between nightmarish funky epics like ‘Miner’s Gruel’, a darkly funny narrative of parents persuading their daughter to leave home. Think Public Image meet an amped-up Pixies.

So the new album may not have the invention and reckless energy of previous work. But these weak points are swallowed by Jack Egglestone’s pounding drums and Julia Ruzicka‘s throbbing bass. Tearing over the top are the smart, savage riffs and wit of Mr. Falco. Prepare for a solid, dry slab of noise rock ready to squash you flat.

Images from DIY, depthoffield and liveatleeds.

Gig Review: Big Ups

Our writer Harry Casey-Woodward reviews the New York punk band Big Ups, who he saw at the Lexington, London on the 30th March 2016…

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The Big Ups are a Brooklyn post-hardcore band who have just released their second album this year. Nearly a week after buying said album Before a Million Universes, I discovered that the band were voyaging across the Atlantic to play in our merry little capital on Wednesday 30th March so eagerly I grabbed a ticket.

The Lexington is a small venue on Pentonville Road, with a 200 max gig room above the bar. The bar was cool to sit in, the walls decked with various animal horns and antique rifles. Upstairs there were two support bands besides the Big Ups. The first band was a surprise, since they weren’t even mentioned on the gig poster. I didn’t catch their name but they certainly made an impression. Not only did they sound like some enraged pub rock band, but the raucous singer was channelling the spirit of Jonny Rotten, from glaring moodily at the crowd to chucking beer. The second band Crows made a hellish post-punk din you could dance to, while the bug-eyed singer jerked and writhed across the venue as if possessed by some demon.

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The supports were energetic enough to get the packed room going. When the Big Ups took to the stage, I was surprised. I knew they met at college in New York, so I was expecting some moody art students. They all looked so young and fresh-faced, and their enthusiasm clearly shone. After the two rather assaultive performances from the supports, the Big Ups’ youthful energy was a refreshing blast.

Singer Joe Galarraga certainly knew how to entertain a crowd. Between songs he was a mild-mannered stand-up. When performing he took on a comic intensity, making faces and throwing himself recklessly around the stage. There was one moment when he slithered head first over the edge of the stage and sang to the floor with his skinny legs flailing in the air. I wondered if he was a fan of Jello Biafra, clownish singer from such satirical punk bands as Dead Kennedys.

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So the band knew how to get a laugh out of their audience, but the intensity and quality of their performance was all too clear. The singer could certainly scream, and the crowd screamed along with him, a good amount knowing lyrics to nearly all the songs. It was great to see such enthusiasm. The songs that sounded so cool and loud on Before a Million Universes sounded even more exhilarating live. The quiet moments built up tension that was shattered by the explosive stabbing riffs.

The crowd were very energetic and there was some vigorous moshing. But overall the gig felt very good natured. For me, the Big Ups’ performance distilled everything I wanted in a punk show. There was a good balance of rage, energy and humour and they were rather pleasant people. They played an encore, mingled with the crowd afterwards and personally thanked everyone for turning up and supporting their music. I personally thank them for gracing us with their presence and such an awesome show.

Images from facebook.

Music Review: Adele

Our guest music blogger Verity Vincent had the pleasure of catching Adele at London’s O2 Arena last week, find out what really happens at an Adele concert right here…

As Adele rose from beneath her stage in the centre of London’s O2 Arena, the tingling introduction to Hello ensued and her voice filled the room. With the opening lyric, there was never going to be any other way for her to kick off a show. And what a show it was.

Skipping through her back catalogue with Hometown Glory, Rumour Has It and Skyfall, her newest offerings from the album 25 were cleverly placed amongst the old favourites. With the ribbon of light around the stage, it almost felt like you could’ve been at a 1950’s bandstand event.

It has been overly documented how Adele is one of few with the ability to make a venue of thousands feel like she’s performing for you in your living room, but it’s true. Her simultaneous vulnerability and utter control make you relaxed and excited all at once.

If you frequent social media channels then you may have seen a circulating meme asking “What actually happens at an Adele gig? Do people just stand around together and cry, then go home?” Well, 10% of that may be right. There were no elaborate stage sets, no costume changes or flashing lasers. What an Adele gig offers, is personality, insane vocals, a roller coaster of emotions (there is a high possibility of sporadic outbursts of tears) and pure class… minus the profanities, but that somehow adds to her vast charm.

As Adele returned to the second stage near the centre of the venue for Someone Like You, walls of iridescent fabric descended around her, creating an incredible backdrop for the video feed and if that wasn’t a show stopper, we were about to see one! As the fabric drifted away, raindrops cascaded from the ceiling as she launched into ‘Set Fire to the Rain’.

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After announcing that she was headlining Glastonbury, Adele addressed the subject that some feel her music is “too boring” for a festival atmosphere. Her answer to this? “I ain’t fucking boring!” No, she ain’t! I think many have a preconceived notion that Adele sings ballads and that’s all you get, but her shows are so much more. Talking to her fans about life, loves, her son, funny anecdotes, taking the time out for those all important selfies and bringing young fans onto her stage; it’s a whole package of entertainment, wrapped up in her infectious cackle.

 

Ending on an up-beat note with Rolling in the Deep confetti filled the air – which upon closer inspection had been personalised with song lyrics and notes of thanks. A nice touch and a perfect way to end such a personable evening with 20,000 people.

Music Review: City & Colour

Our guest music blogger Verity Vincent caught the culmination of City & Colour‘s UK tour at London’s Troxy last weekend and boy did they go out with a bang…

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Support from Lucy Rose was the perfect choice for City and Colour. Her combination of soft yet powerful vocals and at times, heavy guitar riffs meant she was positioned with the perfect crowd. Playing a beautiful 40 minute set, Dallas Green stepped on stage to perform Lucy’s ‘She’ll Move’ and created a vocal blend almost as perfect as his with Alecia Moore. (AKA Pink, with their joint project You & Me). She seemed shocked at the number of bodies that had arrived in time to see her play, but the volume was justified. The venue was nearly full and she deserved it.

After some funky mariachi style intro music, Dallas opened with ‘Woman’ from fifth studio album If I Should Go Before You which instantly set the bar for their set. Magical light displays paired with Dallas’ equally magical tone can effortlessly fill any room.

Offering a perfect range of songs from the albums Sometimes, The Hurry & The Harm, Little Hell and Bring Me Your Love, along with 2015’s If I Should Go Before You, the blend of material spanning over a decade offered a nostalgic element as well as showcasing their newest, and equally brilliant, material. Sadly the repertoire didn’t stop the cries of song titles being endlessly screeched, like the band were there to form a human jukebox. Perhaps they take that as a salute to their back catalogue, either way it was suitably ignored.  

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‘Hello, I’m In Delaware’ was the first throwback track and kicked off an all mighty sing-a-long before picking the tempo up again with ‘Wasted Love’. Whether the audience were more familiar with the recent or earlier albums mattered not. Experiencing the sheer ability this man and his band have was clearly at the forefront.

After an impressive display of thirteen songs and swirling, multi coloured lights illuminating the Troxy, the band briefly stepped off stage to return for one outstanding encore. A further four track section of tear inducing music. Standing solo initially, Dallas treated fans to Day Old Hate before whipping out his harmonica for Body in a Box and a universal, “Oh wow”, could be heard as the initial bars flew out of the harmonica.

Switching from the delicate acoustic arrangement of ‘The Girl’ the full band returned for the second half to up the tempo one last time, culminating in a ridiculous vocal and guitar showcase with ‘Hope For Now’.

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There is such a genuinely humble root to Dallas Green, and as he not only thanks the crowd for singing along to every single word and making his dream and career possible, he also thanks his band and each individual that helps put together their show. You feel a sense of pride for being part of something so special, to sing back the lyrics to him that were written in a small Ontario bedroom is an amazing moment to share, especially when the artist is so openly appreciative. Those lyrics mean something to each person standing in the room, as well as him.

This is the third time I’ve been lucky enough to watch City and Colour live and it never fails to leave the impression; Fuck. He’s just so, so incredibly, goosepimpingly good. His voice has the capability to go right through you, head to toe, and he still remains to be one of the most spellbinding vocalists I have ever heard.