Written and Photographed by Maria Arroyo
Citizen Cope graces the Keswick Theatre’s stage with a beautiful and intimate setup for his All The Songs You Want to Hear– Solo Acoustic Tour. Also known as Clarence Greenwood, Citizen Cope is an American singer, songwriter, and producer known for his mix of blues, folk, rock, and soul music.
I’m a massive fan of acoustic tours because they allow listeners to hear the songs at their most vulnerable, so I was excited to learn that the incredible Citizen Cope was coming to the Philadelphia area.
Opening up for his stellar performance was singer/songwriter and teacher from Washington D.C. Courtney Dowe. She blessed the stage with her beautiful and soulful voice and rich storytelling. Cope came out on stage to introduce Dowe and thanked them for opening the show. He shares their history and his support for her musical talent and tells us that he is so happy that she’s come back to “share her gift with the world” and boy, did she live up to the hype.
She starts her set with a song dedicated to her late mother, which was very fitting for Mother’s Day weekend. Titled “Don’t You Worry,” this acapella opening is so moving and intimate that you can hear a pin drop in the room. Her intense and powerful voice fills the theatre with awe for her incredible performance.
Courtney Dowe shares her story, background, and inspirations in life in her music. She touches on many political topics that tend to be swept under the rug, like affordable housing and the history of the communist regime in China. I always admire artists who use their platform for social justice and to bring to light issues that mass media may only sometimes take an interest in.
Something else I noticed at the show was the amount of support that the crowd had for Cope’s opener. A lot of times at shows, concertgoers couldn’t care less whos on stage if it’s not the main act, but there was something so special and amazing about the love and support pouring out from the theatre seats for Courtney Dowe. She put on one hell of a set and is one of my favorite openers.
After a brief intermission, Citizen Cope stirs up some anticipation and finally comes out for what is clearly about to be an insane show. Right off the bat, his personality is infectious, and the crowd is absolutely in love with him. He looked so happy and grateful to be on stage in a room full of people ready to sing along to his songs, and that was something so special to witness. He has a knack for down-to-earth storytelling that every listener feeds off of. This guy entrances me, and now I see what all the hype is about. He has such a way with his fans, staying connected with them and making them feel so special for the entire show.
My favorite song, “Bullet and A Target,” from the Clarence Greenwood Recordings album, was one of the first songs played, which I loved. He played to his strengths as a singer and had many great vocal effects to add to the dimension of the show. His songwriting and delivery of these incredible songs will keep your eyes glued to him until the crowd erupts into a massive cheer.
The next killer song, titled “Brother Lee” from the Every Waking Moment album, has this immense energy surrounding the performance and a haunting aspect that keeps the listeners entranced for every second.
The next song, which by far had the crowd the loudest I had heard them throughout the show (and a personal favorite of mine), is from his debut self-titled album, which is “Let The Drummer Kick.” The performance raised the energy from a 10/10 to a solid 15/10, which never subsided. “This might be the only time you guys have to get up and move around during this set,” Cope tells the audience, and once he gives them permission to get up and dance, the crowd never sits back down.
During the show, he announced it was his birthday, to which the crowd responded by singing Happy Birthday to Cope on stage, leaving him speechless. Friday night’s show was also the release of his latest single, “Close to You,” available on all streaming platforms, which is part of his new LP Victory March.
Cope also shared that this would be his first time playing this song live and that he still needs to play it for his hometown! He chalks that up to that special “Philadelphia love.”
During the show, he talks about his upcoming release, Victory March” which is a love record. It’s a love record for romantic relationships, friendships, personal growth, and so much more. “We have a great opportunity to learn from people that we don’t think like,” he shares. “We have a lot of love and power, and that is what Victory March is about.”
He then played another song off this release titled “Good Will Overcome,” which had me in tears by the end. It was a moment to remember that we should be grateful for the gift of life, which I needed to hear at this time.
Cope then returns to one of his more well-known albums, Heroin and Helicopters, and shares some favorites off that record. The first is the album opener “Duck Confit,” which he does almost as a spoken word performance. This track resonated with the crowd, and not a soul was talking during the performance of this song.
Some other highlights of the show include songs like “Sideways” from the Clarence Greenwood Recordings, title-album track song “One Lovely Day,” and others. “One Lovely Day” seemed a fan favorite, with everyone singing and dancing. Eventually, what started as a seated show turned into a general admission show, with more than three-quarters of the crowd moving up to the front of the stage.
Cope plays his final song, thanks everyone from the bottom of his heart for coming out and supporting him, and exits off the stage.
Sure enough, the crowd shouts and chants for about 5 minutes for an encore. Finally, Cope is peaking out of stage left, teasing the crowd for a possible encore. He peeks out again, then runs out on stage and performs another handful of the songs for the crowd!
Overall, the great mix of high-energy songs and the beautiful and powerfully moving love songs really made this show one for the books. Cope’s performance made for an unbelievable night, and I was so honored to be able to check this show out for you all!
Cope is a fantastic example of great vocals, great music, and simple staging, which has been so underrated recently. I could have listened to him for hours. The simplicity and feeling of effortlessness are what make the show even better. Hats off to Citizen Cope for a spectacular and moving performance!
Be sure to stream his new single “Close To You.”