Citizen Cope - Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale - September 14

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Citizen Cope
Revolution Live
Friday, Sept. 14, 2012

Better than: Every other Gen X songwriter.

The evening began with a bout of silence. It was unexpected, considering reggae band, Bushwood, was scheduled to woo the masses outside of Revolution Live prior to a night of enchantment from Citizen Cope. Just six hours before the main event, the local act received notice of cancellation due to their zany promotional efforts. The quartet was fired from the gig for claiming to be the 'opening act' of the night, as the venue (and artist team) promised simply "An Evening with Citizen Cope."

As news circulated of Bushwood's termination, early arrivers were left to their own defenses. It was a buzzkill. 

Waiting for Citizen Cope to take the stage felt like slow torture. We considered sprinting quickly for that double-whiskey, but were too worried the show would start just as soon as we left our claimed real estate. Parched and waiting, we were thirsty and anxious for main event.

That was, until the object of our affection entered the stage an hour later than expected, and tabled that yearning for a watered-down Crown Royal. The atmosphere -- which was set by the wafting of dank nugs and swirls of smoke from electronic cigs -- was strange, but all-encompassing. The vibe transitioned when Clarence Greenwood finally graced the stage. Any feelings of resentment faded with the first notes of "Bullet and a Target," a power ballad that got the attention of the stoned onlookers. A bit off-key at first, Cope still opened with a bang. 

The crowd warmed up to the tardy crooner's presence with the Richie Havens' inspired "Hurricane Waters." Cope's audience interaction grabbed the room's attention. Blue waves blanketed the background stripes of the LED screen behind the stage. It was ten minutes in when Cope delivered a commanding yet soulful "Every Waking Moment." The musician grinned at the crowd, and fans, for the first time that night, returned lyrics to the towering songster before them.

Switching up the pace a bit, Greenwood grabbed his acoustic guitar for "Back Then," the first live track introduced off July's One Lovely Day. Then, he transitioned into the new album's title track, which was greeted with another fan sing-along. The lullaby was enhanced by booming drums and two engaged keys players, all of whom were swaying to the calming beats.

The backdrop transformed from figures and shapes into song scenes, including a curious airplane landscape through the course of "DFW" (Dallas Fort Worth). The man of few spoken words seemed to express something jovial and heartfelt in song through his adamant airport pursuit. The pulling, familiar keys of "Mistaken I.D." were still mysterious, yet comforting. A pouch of like-minded onlookers banded together in Cope's lyrical reprise.

With throwback track, "Back Together," Cope admitted: "Been stuck in the middle of a/ Vendetta between me and myself," and admirers nodded along, as their mentor sang their praise. But, it was first set ender, "Let the Drummer Kick" that stirred emotions into a nostalgic frenzy. The drummer appropriately kicked lightly and politely, as Cope drowned poetic euphemisms into the sunken sea of choral companions before him. We got lost in the original track's sheer loveliness. Yellow wristbands glowed in black light, as plugged-in fanatics iFilmed the experience for viral bragging rights.

A set break gave Greenwood a chance to rest his voice, which was the obvious star of the evening. Chatting with strangers by the bar passed the time before the Brooklyn-based songwriter returned to the stage. Before long, Cope shyly revisited his fans, this time, with an all-acoustic, solo ride in mind. It took a few minutes for the sea to settle by way of appreciated numbers like a deep-rooted, charming "Salvation," and the fan (next to us') favorite, "Pablo Picasso." Sans instruments, boyfriends latched onto girlfriends through "D'Artagnan's Theme," while barking "So, why don't you just fade away" to creepsters in earshot. 

Cope's trusty band returned for "My Way Home," but it was "Son's Gonna Rise" that clicked within the lowered ocean of revelers calling uplifted words of encouragement back to their preacher. "Sideways," was a female favorite, complete with feedback from the ladies, including those slantly wrapped around their counterparts' waists.  

Just as the show was winding down, the night's highlight came barking back like a madman bathed in purple light. Cope strummed an utmost uppity "Brother Lee," complete with booming bass drums and voluptuous guitar riffs. But, nothing truly topped the Friday night saccharine sundae quite like Greenwood's dub-infused encore, a magnificent, unique rendition of Radiohead's  "Karma Police," a cover that withstood the hands of time, transferring the intimate audience to a carefree paradise of shared Copegasms. The kind that would most definitely gain a curious nod of approval by one Thom Yorke.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: I've seen Citizen Cope in concert a few times before. And, even though the jams are nothing to write Jerry about, it's the consistency that matters here. Cope does a great job of delivering the delicious vocal goods live, which says an awful lot these days.

Random thought: If you're going to be an hour late on stage, maybe provide an opening act. Though Bushwood's outdoor support was cancelled, it would have been nice to sway to something other than empty island tracks from the house DJ.

By the way: To the guy who gave me a Coors Light shower from above: when you're posting on the upstairs balcony, control your shit.

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