It was an absolutely beautiful early spring evening in downtown Macon, Georgia when Ceelo Green's Love Train Tour pulled into town.
When I first heard Ceelo Green was coming to Macon I was surprised a musician with his musical accomplishments would choose to visit a city the size of our town. Not only was Ceelo playing a smaller city, but he choose a relatively small venue to perform at as well. When choosing a concert to attend I have three simple qualifications to consider;
- Is there a song by that artist that made a lasting impression on me?
- What is the quality of the venue where the artist will be performing?
- How much time, money and energy will I have to put into attending the show?
The first consideration was easy. Ceelo's vocal performance in the song “Crazy” is undeniably etched into my memory. My kids use to love to sing that song back in the day. I can still hear them trying to emulate Ceelo's crystal clear falsetto and failing miserably in the effort. I was also a big fan of Mr. Green's tribute to his home state, aptly titled “Georgia”. I would have to place that in my all time Top 5 list of songs about the state of Georgia. And of course, there is the one Ceelo song I often find myself singing to all those people that have done me wrong in life. Sing it with me, loud and proud Ceelo's anthem song to all those who just don't get it... “F**K You”.
The second important factor, that of the venue, was another easy decision. The Cox Capital Theatre is one of the best intimate venues to see a concert at anywhere south of Atlanta and north of Savannah. The Cox posses historical qualities and an a cozy vibe that seems to motivate performers and audiences alike to bring their best. Under the current management of the facility this venue has quickly become a fan favorite offering great shows, lots of cold drinks and munchies if you get hungry. What more could you ask for when it comes to a great place to catch a live show.
The final consideration was that all important factor of how much effort was I going to have to put into attending this show. Lets face the facts, if Ceelo was performing in Atlanta instead of Macon on a school night, my chances for attending that show would be zero. Luckily for me, Ceelo was coming to downtown Macon, which is as easy as falling off the couch when you consider location, traffic and parking.
The first thing I noticed as we strolled up to The Cox that evening was the size of Ceelo's tour bus which was proudly parked in front of the theater. My girlfriend quipped, “For a small guy he sure has a big bus”. Ceelo's rig easily eclipsed the entire front of The Cox and took up a half a block worth of parking spaces. If the size of a performers bus is an indication of what to expect on stage, then Ceelo was going to be putting on a gigantic performance.
As we walked along the front of the theater and checked out the line of concert goers the diversity of the crowd was readily apparent.
I have been to a lot of live shows in Macon and I am always struck by the markedly different audiences that attend each show. Lets just say that this crowd was somewhere left of the Luke Bryant farm tour crowd and a little right of the Ricky Smiley comedy show audience. If those references still left you scratching your head, then suffice it to say the people lined up to see Ceelo were a microcosm of the great cross section of the diverse citizens that make up our city's demographic mix. White, Black, Brown, Old, Young, Uptown to Downtown this show had appeal for just about all music lovers in Macon.
When Ceelo Green took the stage at around 9ish pm the house was packed. The Cox Capital Theatre (http://www.coxcapitoltheatre.com/the-venue/) website states the audience capacity is 650 people. I had to verify that fact, because it sure seemed like a much bigger crowd was in attendance that night. It must have been the positive energy and excitement in the crowd making it seem like thousands were on hand to witness Ceelo's Love Train experience. Motivated by the excellent interview Brad Evens did in the recent 11th Hour publication , my girlfriend wanted to get close enough to the stage to perhaps catch a drop of that legendary “Ceelo sweat”. I was probably more motivated by the cold libations the bartender was mixing up that night, but either way we ended up on the front edge of the stage and we stayed right there mesmerized for the entire show.
Ceelo Green is a showman, a performer, a preacher and an awesome musical artist. From the title of the tour (The Love Train) I was not sure what to expect, but as the show unfolded I realized this was going to be more than your usual live concert on a Thursday night. Ceelo had purposely scaled back the size of the onstage performers to better accommodate the intimate setting of the venues on this tour. He wanted to be more in touch with his audience and really make a connection with his fans.
By the time the audience was fully engaged in Ceelo's stage magic it was time for him to play his anthem to all those haters in the world. There is nothing more cathartic then standing in the middle of a concert crowd and singing at the top of your lungs the lyrics to the “F**k You” song. Everyone was on their feet and most of them were proudly waving the middle finger salute in the air for the world to see. I was right their with them, thinking about those that have trespassed against me and feeling the vibe of the crowd throwing off all that pent up frustration about the things that really don't matter in the grand scheme of things. “Man that sure felt good”, said the guy next to me when the song ended. I could not agree more.
The Love Train was gather momentum and the crowd was on their feet moving to the beat when Ceelo derided it was time to but on his preaching boots. He addressed the 650 people in attendance in an earnest dialogue about some of things that really mattered to him most. He talked about his past and confessed to the audience he once was a racist, but he was able to evolve beyond hate and as he grew in understanding he realized the error of his ways. Ceelo proudly proclaimed he has become “Brighter than black” and it was clear to him what mattered most was understanding and compassion for his fellow man. His message of unification and togetherness was warmly welcomed and received thunderous applause from all of Ceelo's fans. From our vantage point at the front of the stage we could see a genuine smile spread across Ceelo's face when he looked out over the crowd in Macon that night to see the type of diversity that makes this a special and unique place to call home.
By the time the Love Train was running out of steam at the end of the show, the crowd broke into a “Cee Low” chant that must have been heard all the way up to Atlanta. Ceelo responded with an encore performance of a song that was requested by his brother who was in attendance that night. It was a song from Ceelo's gospel music influences and it was the perfect number to wrap up one hell of great live performance. I have not seen a more motivated audience at a concert in a long time.
I don't think one single person of the 650 (sure felt like more) at the show got up to leave until Ceelo finally exited the stage. As he passed by our position on the stage's edge, Ceelo reached out his hand to the crowd and sure enough my girlfriend reached forward to make a connection and perhaps get her some “Ceelo Sweat”. Alas Ceelo's arm didn't quite extend the last few inches and my girl was left hanging centimeters away from her goal.
A special shout out to the staff and management of the Moon Hanger Group for providing Macon and Middle Georgia with one of the best venues to see some top notch performances. You guys are doing a fantastic job, keep it up and best of luck on your future shows. http://www.coxcapitoltheatre.com/
posted 05/01/2017 in