Concert review: Citizen Cope at Jannus Live (with video)

Citizen Cope’s expansive discography of blues infused rock-reggae with an urban twang filled the Jannus performance with so many musical moments it’s hard to pick what stood out most, but the new stuff from The Rainwater LP (Rainwater Recordings, 2010) thrived in the live setting and it was awesome seeing the tracks come to life with the same quality as on the record. I loved the bouncy, jangly dancehall live version of “Off the Ground” – definitely my personal favorite of the night.


The encore was an entire jam session of highlights, from a Cope rendition of Radiohead’s “Karma Police” to the urban, Dylan-esque solo-acoustic performance of “Salvation” by Greenwood. It was right at the end of the metaphorical ode, as the show came upon its inevitable close, that the chick next to me expressed her worry that Greenwood might not play “Sideways.” I assured her he would and within moments he began strumming, “Ya know it ain't easy/ For these thoughts here to leave me/ There's no words to describe it/ In French or in English.” The girl sank into her guy’s arms, just like every other female fan in attendance, and swayed as she swooned out the lyrics.


As a female, I too could not help but swoon to the amorous tune because, as hip-hop and blues-cool as Cope may be in some songs, he also has that John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz ability to tap into the female psyche with his music – “panty droppers” as my boyfriend calls these musicians. Nothing is better proof of this then when Greenwood came out once the show was over and was promptly surrounded by a frenzy of female fans, giddy and shrieking with alcohol induced excitement.


[image-1]There is this quote at the end of Almost Famous, spoken by Sapphire (one of the band aids) to Russell Hammond of Stillwater, she says, “They don’t even know what it is to be a fan, Y’know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” And this is kind of what it is like trying to describe a Citizen Cope show; if you’re not a fan, you don’t understand and if you are, then you’re missing the musical awesomeness of last Friday night’s show so bad it hurts and nothing I write can appropriately recapture it with 26 letters and a decent vocabulary.


The devoted fandom of Citizen Cope’s listeners in combination with the eclectic yet unpretentious soulful rock-reggae music are the reasons why the live shows are so highly recommended.


I asked Greenwood a few weeks back in a phone interview what he believed made his shows successful. “As long as I can connect and catch a vibe,” Greenwood responded. “There are some rooms where that just doesn’t happen and there are others that can hold a sound so well. But really none of that even matters. It all comes down to how the stars are aligned.”


I would say Jannus captured his blend of earthy, urban soul-rock music superbly and, as it echoed through the humid night air last Friday, the stars were definitely aligned for the St. Pete performance.


Below are most of the songs played that night; however, beyond the first few the order is a little sketchy (The bartenders at Jannus Live! don’t skimp when you’re sipping on concert priced cocktails – trust me). To check out quality pics of the performance from Belleair Images, click here.


Bullet and a Target


Hurricane Waters


Every Waking Moment


Healing Hands


Pablo Picasso


If There’s Love


Let the Drummer Kick


Coming Back


Keep Asking


Off the Ground


I Couldn’t Explain Why


Back Together


Son’s Gonna Rise


D’Artagnan’s Theme


Karma Police (cover)


Lifeline


Salvation


Sideways


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It’s Friday night and I’m standing amidst the swarm of Citizen Cope lovers who've arrived at Jannus Live for the musical mixology of Clarence Greenwood and Co.

The crowd of 20- to 50-somethings howl and whistle in between sipping cocktails as pink and blue-hued light beams over the masses. Greenwood conducts the scene from the stage, with his guitar and melodious voice crooning out show openers “Bullet and a Target,” “Hurricane Waters” and “Healing Hands.”

It is a typical Florida evening – humid and lacking in any sort of breeze – and it feels about 107 degrees in the midst of the people who fill the outdoor venue. As I hear the first chord of “Pablo Picasso,” I forget about the deathly heat and find my dancing groove; rap-singing the lyrics of the hip-hop, blues tune with the audience: “The woman that I love / Is forty feet tall / She's a movie star / She's all in the papers…” There is a line of crowd movers crossing my path and I meet eyes with one of the passing strangers as he sings lyric for lyric as well. He pauses, and for a moment we belt out the chorus together, before lifting our hands in the air and giving each other a sweaty high five in a musical connection.

The soulfully groovin’ vibes of Citizen Cope had officially spread throughout the outdoor venue and would continue on for the rest of the night — never really peaking, but hitting a steady stride and flowing over the crowd, as Cope balanced revving up the packed venue with go-go based beats on songs like “Let the Drummer Kick,” and slowing it down to a folk pace for tunes like “Keep Asking.”

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