From the moment Dallas Green walked on stage, it was obvious that this was a serious show for serious fans involving some very serious musicians.

Yes, last night's Colour and City show at Auckland's Civic Theatre - Green's second solo performance here since splitting from hardcore Canadian act Alexisonfire in 2011 - felt like a celebration of earnestness.

There was little to lighten the mood during a humourless first half as Green and his all-star band performed downbeat, semi-acoustic versions of songs from his four-album canon, like The Grand Optimist and As Much As I Ever Could.

Green has a comforting everyman way of singing, and songs like The Lonely Life and Of Space and Time come with chilling falsettos and beautifully timed, occasionally haunting crescendos that can send shivers down the spine.


But as obvious as Green's talent is, he's let down by some lacklustre lyrical cliches - "I guess I take after my mother" is the bonkers chorus for The Grand Optimist, while The Lonely Life's hook is the Coldplay-esque, "Please don't pass me by".

And by the time Green ditched his band for a four-song acoustic break, things reached a depressing low with Body in a Box (sample lyric: "Don't you bury me six feet underground"), a song so sombre two young fans seated upstairs fled the venue in tears.

There were some odd song choices too: Kiwis would find it hard to relate to the California-bashing serenade The Golden State, yet Green didn't play his recent reworkings of Kimbra's Settle Down and Bic Runga's Captured, both of which would have been timely and topical.

Thankfully, Green lightened up after his acoustic segment, hassling a heckler for being sexually aggressive, joking about his semi-appropriate song segues and telling an Alexisonfire fan that she was in for a night of disappointment. Green doesn't often play songs from his former life as a moshpit igniter these days.

The show ended with some better-paced song choices too: The fuzzed out rocker Thirst - a song originally intended for Kimbra - got people out of their seats for a quickfire boogie, and Weightless was a no frills garage rocker with a feedback blitz of a finale that finally showed off Green's punk-rock roots.

But overall it was a mixed bag. Green's got a way to go before he stands apart from the overcrowded alt-rock indie-folk masses.

Who: City and Colour
Where: The Civic, Auckland
When: Monday, December 16