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Citizen Cope:
15th September, 2006 - Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, NY

This would be my first show with my wife, Erin, and quite a different one from my normal experience. It was pouring in NYC that day, and we were soaked when we arrived. The show was mere days after the 5-year anniversary of 9-11, so we spent a little while at Ground Zero, where she had never been prior.

The crowd was diverse, full of knowledgeable fans. It’s strange, because I’ve never heard much of Citizen Cope, but plenty of people knew the older material and the venue was pretty packed. We had moved up relatively close and got frustrated at all the kiddies on their cell phones. Hehe, not as bad as some of the fools I meet up with at metal shows!

Alice Smith, the opener, was good, but not very memorable (I write this 6 months after the fact)

The band arrived and Cope started the lines to Hurricane Waters solo. This is one of my favorite songs from the 2nd record (the only album I was familiar with at the time), but Erin was never a big fan. I think that changed that night! He begins by chanting the opening lines before the band kicks in. The song is laid-back, with a cool percussion rhythm. I loved it. A fantastic way to begin th enight. The crowd was really into it.

Since I was unfamiliar with his material, I can only remember bits. The next song, I believe, is the first from the 3rd record, and Alice Smith sang along. The album had just come out that week, or was scheduled to. He went into Sideways, the first song Erin and I had heard of his. It was a rainy night driving from Calais to Houlton, and the trip was a memorable one. It was just a relaxing mid-summer drive. Anyways, the song was incredibly slow, very moody, and he changed the lyrics slightly. The downside was that while it was a popular song among the crowd, it was so slow that it sucked the energy out of the place. The next song was another new one.

What followed were 6 more tunes before I recognized one. When he started the next song, (Son's Gonna Rise or Bullet and a Target) the crowd again got into it. This is his big hit, apparently, so it was really energetic. Unfortunately, every time an upbeat song got the crowd going (particularly from his 2nd record), it was followed by a more mellow, low-key song that reversed the effects of the excitement. On a positive note, I liked many of the songs even though most were unknown to me and I loved the bass line on Mistaken I.D. A highlight was the song Somehow. Erin had heard the song before, but not I, and so during the one relevant line, she turned her head and looked at me. I wondered why until I heard Cope's words, reflecting her thoughts. One of those things you won't soon forget.

Pablo Picasso was the first encore, played by just Cope and his guitar. A strange song, but definitely a favorite, he managed to pull all the energy out of it by playing it solo. He did let the crowd sing a large part of it, which was awesome. This was followed by his rendition of Is It Love? by Bob Marley. He did come out for a 2nd encore, though I can't recall specifics at all. I do remember it not ending on an upbeat, huge, end-of-show note.

It was a great concert. Irked by dopey kids and an uncanny Tool-esque ability to drain the crowd of its energy after building it up, I left quite thrilled. The setlist is impossible to recall, but comparing to similar setlists, I'd say it went something like this...

  • Hurricane Waters
  • Back Together (w/ Alice Smith)
  • Sideways
  • Brother Lee
  • Somehow
  • All Dressed Up
  • Mistaken I.D.
  • Hands Of The Saints
  • Son's Gonna Rise
  • Bullet And A Target
  • Holdin' On
  • E: Pablo Picasso (solo)
  • E: Is It Love?
  • more...

14th July, 2006 - BB King's Bar & Grill, New York, NY

I haven't seen a great show in over a year. In fact, I've moved to the recesses of Maine, thereby limiting almost all possibilities of seeing much. Back in November though, when Emperor announced they'd be coming to the US for a pair of dates (later doubled to 4), there was simply nothing that could hold me back from seeing them. I've been fortunate enough to see just about everyone I've ever wanted, but they were atop the brief always-regret-never-having-seen bands.

It's also one of those shows you purchase tickets a year before they actually play. It was autumn when I got them, and mid-summer was the show. I took the journey from my new home in Maine to my family on Long Island (580 miles) and prepared for the legendary return of the band that really brought black metal to the US shores. If not Nightside, Anthems was just universally hailed as a masterpiece.

So...I met up w/ Jake, tired, and we opted for the 7pm train from Huntington. A good choice, as we didn't want to get to the city 3 hours before showtime. The train itself got held up in Mineola for half an hour, and we got the 'pleasure' of sitting next to a pair of women (girls) who really helped me realize I didn't miss NY altogether too much! Jake was enamored with the blonde, I just rolled my eyes at their...hmm...no eloquent word for ditziness (or proper spelling?). After their panic attacks, small talk and Jake's sudden foot fondling, we arrived late to the city but early for the show. No harm, no foul. It was fuel for pre-Emperor anger in any case.

We caught a few songs from Daylight Dies a band that really wasn't too bad, but sounded like October Tide to me, 10 years too late. Looking around, all I saw was black. A veteran to the metal scene, that shouldn’t come as any surprise, but wow…EVERYONE was wearing black! I spied one blue shirt, and every other shirt was colorless. It was pretty cool, particularly considering about half of them were Emperor shirts, old and new.

A long delay prior to the main band's appearance also helped build anticipation. We had known Samoth didn't make it to the states, and there was only 1 guitar head, so that wasn't a shock, but still a bit of a letdown. Jake had looked at the setlist posted earlier, and as always, I was glad I hadn’t. The intro of songs from Nightside impressed and sounded remarkably full even without Samoth. As Thus Spake The Nightspirit ended, the crowd was incredible. I never quite expected so many people to be singing along w/ a band such as this. Nightspirit, spirit, embrace my soul! It was awesome.

The pit wasn’t anything particularly amazing, except to mention that every large guy decided that’s where they’d go. Everyone weighing in at over 250 was right in there, heedlessly crashing into the thinnest women they could find.

Moving along, the setlist revealed its magic. One track from Prometheus and a pair from IX Equilibrium indicated that it was ALL the first 2 records. Trym was tight on drums behind Ihsahn, who truly is incredible to watch. Only a few moments did I really look over and think, “That would sound so much better were Samoth here.” As sweat poured off of me, bodies crashed against the crowd, Trym’s feet were on fire and for the first time, I missed being back in NY. I realized the grandeur of Emperor, who I Finally got to see! Inno A Satana began and the band’s greatest live moment ends it all, Inno…A…SATANAAAAA!!! It gets no better.

With Opus A Satana, the first half, going through the speakers, we waited for the encore, which would surely be I Am The Black Wizards and Ye Entrancemperium. Like the mighty Slayer, you can know the encore is Angel of Death, but not until those opening riffs blare does the excitement come to fruition. Everyone is singing I Am The Black Wizards, soaked with sweat at this stage. Ye Entrancemperium begins and it is just pure speed. “Can I ever comprehend? Will my longing ever end?”

Arms in the air. Hair a tangled wet mess. Voice hoarse as the guitars die out and Opus A Satana concludes. THIS is what a show is supposed to be like. Not the crap I had seen the last 18 months. I left the show physically exhausted but not tired at all. It gets no better than this. Nothing more can be said that hasn’t already been. Emperor is the best at what they do.
”I am the ruler and has been for eternities long.”
The setlist, utterly fantastic, goes as follows:
  1. Into The Infinity Of Thoughts / The Burning Shadows Of Silence / Cosmic Keys To My Creations & Times (medley)
  2. Thus Spake The Nightspirit
  3. An Elegy Of Icaros
  4. Curse You All Men
  5. With Strength I Burn
  6. Towards The Pantheon
  7. The Majesty Of The Nightsky
  8. The Loss And Curse Of Reverence
  9. In The Wordless Chamber
  10. Inno A Satana
  11. Opus A Satana (first half / from tape)
  12. E:I Am The Black Wizards
  13. E: Ye Entranceperium
  14. E: Opus A Satana (second half / from tape)