It’s not often that the opener gets called back for an encore, but the stadium was hungry for Shakey Graves when he started packing up. He gestured to his wrist by way of excuse, but thanked everyone for liking him that much.
Graves opened for City and Colour at Rogers Arena. A mix of blues, rock, and folk, Graves and his band were well-loved by the folks waiting for City and Colour. This was his first arena show, and he killed it. Smooth guitar, dulcet yet powerful vocals, and fantastic drums — particularly on “Dearly Departed” which turned out to be a huge fan favourite. This guy was a great time, with his signature suitcase drum and laidback style. “Only Son” was another winner with the audience.
Ontario-native Dallas Green’s City and Colour was quite the contrast to the big rock sound of Shakey Graves, opening with the nine-minute “Woman” off of his latest If I Should Go Before You. The soulful alternative rock project featured spectacular lights as an accompaniment to the gainful guitar and swaying bass. As a result, stage movement was limited, but City and Colour more than made up for it with audience interaction.
Green’s ensemble played favourites “Sleeping Sickness” and “Waiting . . .” as well as a few off the latest album. There was dancing in the aisles to the smooth vocals. Though it was pretty difficult to tell what the lyrics were, Green’s voice fits the music so well that it almost doesn’t matter. They closed out the group portion of the evening with “As Much as I Ever Could,” that is a great closing out song from Bring Me Your Love.
Then Green did some solo performances: “Bobcaygeon” (a Tragically Hip cover), “Save Your Scissors,” and the popular love song “The Girl,” which the band came back on for. He handled the stage as well alone as he did in the group, and the audience loved every second.
As soon as they left the stage, the stadium was calling them back for more, and City and Colour delivered in spades. They came right back in with “Fragile Bird,” a more upbeat, groovy song that once again saw the audience on their feet and swaying to that bassline. The night ended for real on “Sorrowing Man,” a melancholy rock ballad with a lot of powerful emotion in both music and vocals.
It was not the kind of concert that sees the audience on their feet for the entire time — aside from the floor seats, because once one guy stands up, everyone else needs to in order to see. It was a chill, but massively enjoyable time for all. This was a show about the music, and coming together as a group of people who appreciate excellent songwriting.