Mairead O’Brien attended a memorable and much anticipated Citizen Cope gig in Dublin last weekend. The musician dubbed by one Rolling Stone critic as “a modern day bluesman who paints a plaintive portrait of the human condition” did not disappoint.
This Saturday I had the privilege of catching Citizen Cope, Clarence Greenwood, on the last night of his European tour in the Academy 2. Much of Mr. Greenwood’s success can be attributed to the use of songs, such as ‘Sideways’ and ‘Hurricane Waters’, in popular USA hit series such as Scrubs, One Tree Hill and CSI: Miami, to name but a select few.
As a musician Mr. Greenwood is somewhat enigmatic. His style is almost impossible to describe. I have always found it to be a comfortable mix of R n’B, folk and the blues. In his collaborative work with artists such Santana and Dido, the variety of his musical abilities has shone. The ease with which he can vary the tonality of his voice has always made him stand out from the rest.
Despite having succeeded in achieving a loyal fan base, Citizen, as he prefers to be called, has not achieved commercial success in the mass market. Citizen was first signed by Capitol Records in 1998 but was later dropped without the release of his album. This disruptive and frayed relationship with record companies has continued right throughout his career.
One observation, which an onlooker cannot but admire, is Citizen’s seasoned understanding of what the crowd desires. This is hardly surprising given the fact that Citizen is no stranger to life on the road. Following the knocks which he suffered as a result of being dropped from major labels he returned to his roots, performing over 120 shows in North America in 2008 alone.
His current tour is in promotion of his latest album, The Rainwater LP, released through his own label, RainWater Recordings in February of last year. Perhaps, finally, 13 years on from his initial break Citizen has found a way of making the music he wants, in the style he wants.
On the night itself Mr. Greenwood did not disappoint, with three albums to his credit he gave a healthy mix of old and new material. The venue itself provided the perfect level of intimacy and set the tone quite nicely. The experienced acoustic guitarist mastered the crowd by giving a captivating performance, which had the unarguable effect of stunning the crowd into silence.
Citizen is well known for his truth-telling lyricism. It was hardly surprising that his words, which are so often filled with themes of tragedy and grief, fell softly upon the pricked ears of the crowd. They hung on his every utterance as he spoke of subject matters in manner that people are often unwilling or unable to do.
He intertwined the hip beats of songs such as ‘Son’s Gonna Rise’ with the sober melodies of ‘Salvation’ in a manner that only a true professional could.
On a personal level the song of the night for me would have to be the acoustic version of ‘Hurricane Waters’. The hushed echoing of the lyrics; “I will carry you through the Hurricane Waters”, from the crowd was simply breath taking.
The Rainwater LP is available on iTunes and all good record stores.