City and Colour, Royal Albert Hall, London
"I always hoped that someone would listen, but I never thought all of you would," says the Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green (a city and a colour, to explain his recording name), as he thanks the crowd for listening to a song he wrote when he was 17, "Like Knives".
As he stands on a Persian rug, sporting a suit and a string bow tie, only the the old-fashioned sailor tattoos that creep up the 30-year-old's neck serve as a reminder of his alter ego, as guitarist and vocalist for the acclaimed "post-hardcore" band Alexisonfire. That is a role that will almost certainly never see him headline a sold-out Royal Albert Hall, and Green's surprise at life's twists of fate is evident throughout the show.
Green is a big name in his native Canada but "Like Knives" is a rare treat for fans at any end of the planet. Showcasing his signature blend of deep vocal tone, gothic lyrics and soft acoustic strumming, it sets him up for a similar yet much more mature highlight, "Oh Sister", which is from his forthcoming third album, Little Hell. Due for release in June, it will be followed by a tour in the autumn and is likely to provide his true coming-of-age.
"I have a favour to ask," says Green, donning a harmonica before providing one of many half-comedic, half-philosophical interludes in his pre-amble to "Body in a Box". "I was hoping, just for this one song, we could put all of our cellphones and cameras away... I feel like nowadays everyone is trying to remember it so badly that they forget to actually experience it... and I don't know if we need another shitty version of this song on YouTube."
Dirty electric guitar riffs and tapping cymbals give a mostly acoustic show more grit when two band members take the stage, generating an American blues rock style that fans of The Black Keys would appreciate.
It is apparent that many fans are in attendance because of Green's previous musical history (references to Alexisonfire are whispered constantly) but few can claim Green's success in making the transition from screaming rocker to soulful solo act – he even covers Adele's "Hometown Glory".
With a Canadian Juno award, three full-length albums and this show to his name, Green is already impressive. He looks set to build on his achievements this year.
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