Ron Pope at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Dressed in black with long hair, Ron Pope seems like a cool guy. Known for his acoustic song A Drop in the Ocean, featured in The Vampire Diaries, he experienced a level of exposure many singer-songwriters would kill for.
Tonight is a sombre feel with the audience, practically all young girls staring forward into the distance gazing longingly. Some boyfriends are in attendance, their portable devices in hand and guess what? They’re not taking photos. Ron Pope bounds on the stage with his band and electric guitar. Yes, you can take acoustic music and amp it up but this time it’s not changing anything. It’s still those same vocals. And those lyrics.
Needy, clingy, clichéd “I’m sorry if I hurt you” repeats to nausea in Back to Bed. Oddly, heroin references feature with “You are my addiction, the needle and the spoon” as Ron Pope pleads unconvincingly with a voice so thick with sweetener it should carry a toxicity warning. It sounds like he has read too many troubled rock biographies and merged it with the plot of an American teen drama because this is not emotional music but emo.
Half way through instruments are swapped but the songs remain the same; himself, the girl and the breakup. “Still I try” repeats in Silver Spoon and it sounds like gospel but instead of black, sounds Mormon.
With the final song announced, from new album Calling Off the Dogs, many people from the back start to leave and it’s just 10:20. During the solo encore you get the impression the fans in the front have simply wanted this all along; the unadulterated soppiness of this one man and his acoustic. The band then comes back in with one of the cheesiest guitar solos in recent times. Prince, this is not. It’s so out of place even Ron Pope laughs into his mic, is this part of the act? Who knows, spontaneity is a foreign word here.
Finally it’s time for the Vampire Diaries hit, but you’ve just heard an hour of songs that rehash it. The girls and their mothers may love the whole sentimental act but will they still listen if the crush wears off… It ends with a warm reception from the musically challenged and emotionally desperate.
Photos: Helen Parish
For further information and future events visit Ron Pope’s website here.
Listen to A Drop in the Ocean here: