Driving the windy road to Ithaca in the misting night was a daunting task; the roads climb and drop and swerve all over. Finally reaching Ithaca and wishing they had a local brewed beer to offer, I settled into a seat towards the rear floor. The theater is about half full on the floor with a smattering of people in the upper deck. The State Theater is a large 1600-capacity gorgeous theater built in 1928 and the historic landmark in Ithaca with excellent sound and a very accommodating vibe.
The lights dimmed and Cope and company graced the stage with no intro and got straight down to business. This led into “One Lovely Day”, which is gorgeous played live, giving an uplifting feeling from the endorphins released while the music started to wash over me. There was something stirring within the crowd and many were singing and swaying and with “Bullet and a Target”, a popular song from Cope. At this point the crowd, as if by telepathy, all decide to rise and crowd near the front of the stage and dance. The energy coming from the stage and the crowd mixing was intoxicating. (Maybe it was all of the pheromones in the air as the crowd was, in my estimatation, 65% women.) A heartfelt “Hurricane Waters” followed and the band was noticeably in full swing. They showed more energy and even Cope was smiling. A powerful pulsating version of “Penitentiary” followed with the blends and layers of music that Cope combined with cathartic hopeful lyrics, the live experience is truly moving. A few more songs, including “Healing Hands”, “When Sun’s Gonna Rise Begins” and “Climax” kicked in, and the band was all smiling and feeling the crowd, singing an extended chorus into a jam by the band. While it felt like the end of the show, it was only the end of the first set.
After a standing ovation and even the chanting of “Cope! Cope! Cope!”, he returned to center stage, solo this time with only an acoustic guitar. Strumming through gems like “Picasso”, “Lifeline”, “D’Artagnan’s Theme”, “200000” and finally, “Holding On”. This very personal second set found the band rejoining Cope on stage and after playing another number they pulled out crowd favorite “Sideways”. This number is oft requested via shout outs from the crowd, to which Cope responded “We’ll get there….we’ve gotta get through the foreplay.” This segued directly into a cover of “Karma Police” which was powerful and charged. Towards the end, a member of the audience threw his hat on stage which Cope donned and promptly gave out high fives to the crowd in front. He later returned the hat and handed the guy a t-shirt he had been teasing the crowd with. It was a perfect ending to the show.