Back in 2007, an unknown singer songwriter by the name of Ron Pope hit a nerve with music fans across the internet with the viral song, "A Drop in the Ocean." With a stripped down piano melody and a gripping voice, the boy from Georgia captivated millions in the early days of online viral video. Today, that song has garnered hundreds of millions of steams and views across multiple platforms. On Monday night at the House of Blues side room, the Bronze Peacock, Pope hid his career-defining record at the end of a two-song encore following a 90-minute set.
Instead, the Nashville-based veteran focused his performance on a mix of tracks from his genre-encompassing four solo albums, as well as new samples from an upcoming fifth. The avoidance of his once chart-topping hit is only natural for an artist who's spent the last 13 years releasing a career's worth of music, starting a family, a homegrown label and cultivating a niche following of devoted fans.
Following his opening act, Virginia native singer-songwriter Caroline Spence — who's sorrowful and self-reflective brand of acoustic country set a moving tone for the evening — Pope gave the occasional nod to his own soulful pop origins, though ultimately leaned heavily on his more contemporary style of Nashville country rock. Accompanied by a full band featuring horns, fiddle, keys and various strings, the one-time internet sensation played the role of band leader.
A jazzy, blues-inspired set of recent hits like "Let's Get Stoned" and "Come to California" proceeded a more emotional and subdued second half with autobiographical tracks like 2019's "My Wildest Dreams" and 2016's "One Shot of Whiskey."
Interlacing tracks with long, theatrical introductions for each of his many band members, plus a few stories of fatherhood and kicking bad habits, Pope appeared comfortable and utterly content onstage following a family-focused hiatus from touring. The 36-year-old, who dons long black braids and a bushy beard in place of the clean-cut pop star look he debuted with, now owns the stage with the casual authority of a man who knows himself and his art.
The night's emotional peak came near the end of their set when Pope and his band came down from stage to perform an acoustic, mic-less cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" surrounded by a dozen cellphone lights and the accompanying vocals of a delighted audience.
The moment, which Pope claims was a first, stamped a profoundly entertaining evening spanning a career and, in many ways, a life. In the end, "A Drop in The Ocean" was little more than fan-service. A long-awaited generosity that, while welcomed by all, ultimately felt unnecessary..
Ron Pope's fifth solo album, Bone Structure, comes out on March 6. For more information on the album and his remaining tour dates visit his website.
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