Citizen Cope Ignites The Fillmore With a Passionate Performance
Bringing Heroin and Helicopters To Charlotte
It’s been a long time coming, but last Friday, March 1st, the music world received a special gift in the form of a brand new album from Citizen Cope. Heroin and Helicopters marks his first new music in six years and is an absolute delight,both poignant and profound. Born Clarence Greenwood in Memphis, Tennessee, Citizen Cope carries a little bit of the Memphis blues deep down in his soul, writing songs that move people, filling them with emotion. Growing up in Washington, DC, he got his musical career started in the local, alternative hip-hop group Basehead before signing to Capitol Records in 1997.
Changing labels and signing with DreamWorks in 2000 resulted in the stellar self-titled debut album which spawned the hit “Let The Drummer Kick.” Subsequent years saw the release of the critically acclaimed The Clarence Greenwood Recordings in 2004 and Every Waking Moment in 2006. Citizen Cope’s music resonated with his listeners as they clamored for more. In 2010, he launched his very own label Rainwater Recordings, giving him full creative control over his music, freeing him from the encumbrances that often comes with a major label. In the same year, he released The Rainwater LP, the first on his own label and the first album that he produced completely on his own.
The record was met with much success earning him a performance of “Healing Hands” on the Ellen DeGeneres show. In 2012, Citizen Cope released his highest charting album to date with One Lovely Day further cementing him as one of his generation’s best singer-songwriters with artists as varied as Carlos Santana and Dido recording some of his songs. This last fall, his first single off of Heroin and Helicopters, “Justice,” was released and the buzz has been non-stop ever since. Tuesday evening, Citizen Cope made a stop at The Fillmore here in Charlotte wowing the crowd with a live set that proved to be more than just a concert, but an experience in musical magic.
The capacity crowd was just starting to file in as I arrived at the venue with fans of all ages and from all walks of life coming together as one to enjoy an evening they would never forget. Opening things up was the Austin,Texas native David Ramirez and his indie-Americana vibe. He took the stage solo with only his own guitar to back him up. From the very first notes, you knew you were in for something unique and truly special. Touching on today’s current historical themes, his music is a thought provoking statement on the political and social climate of present day America.
His set drew from his 2017 album We’re Not Going Anywhere and really had the feel of a roots based musical performance. The audience seemed to appreciate what was unfolding before them with many heading to David’s merch table following his set. It was a perfect way to start off the evening and warm up the crowd and I believe that David won himself quite a few new fans that night.
After a very short break, the stage darkened and the members of Citizen Cope’s band took their appropriate places on stage. The drum kit was centered at the rear of the stage on a slight riser flanked by a bass guitarist on one side and a sound man with a laptop on the other. There also were two keyboard players sitting behind pianos on each side of the stage. After a few moments, the man himself took the stage to thundering applause, grabbed a guitar and began to shine. Citizen Cope’s music has a raw, organic feel that hits you right in the heartstrings. It’s an eclectic mix of rock, blues, folk, funk, soul, and even a little hip-hop for good measure. The one constant is the quality of the songs themselves.
Citizen Cope will have your heart swelling with joy one moment and in the very next, have you shedding a tear or two. It is definitely music that is driven by emotions, both his and the audience and the connection between the two lets things soar to an entirely new realm. His vocals run the gamut from gruff and raspy to silky smooth, filling the venue with a sonic frenzy that washed over the crowd.
The band members are all technically skilled performers but also play with a stark realness and passion that is necessary to match the fervor of Citizen Cope. He had a hold on the audience that never waned as fans laughed, cried, danced, and sang along. Before playing “Hours on End” from the new album, he introduced the song, joking that Carlos Santana once gave him a sage piece of advice. Telling him to stay away from the two H’s, heroin and helicopters, if he wanted to make it in the music business.
The night was full of musical highs and lows as everyone rode the roller coaster ride that Citizen Cope provided. Highlights of the set were the bluesy groove of “Sally Walks” and “Son’s Gonna Rise,” during which he held a note so incredibly long that a hush fell over the venue until he finally, finally, had to come up for a breath of air. It was simply breathtaking. Other fun moments included a fantastic cover of Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” and the audience taking over the vocals on “Sideways.” After an amazing set, Citizen Cope returned to the stage solo to finish out the incredible night, shouting out that he had a few more for us.
The night left everyone emotionally exhausted and wonderfully fulfilled. If you need a little light in your life, go and see Citizen Cope when he makes a stop in a city near you. It will truly be a night that soothes your weary soul. For upcoming tour dates and tickets, go to https://citizencope.com/tour.