I got the great opportunity to see Jars of Clay live at Sellersville Theater in PA on January 17, 2010. The theater only seats about 250 people and was a great venue to see one of my all-time favorite bands who recently released one of their best albums last year, The Long Fall Back To Earth. This is one of the most amazing albums I’ve heard in the past decade. Jars of Clay has managed to channel the best of themselves, almost unanimously agreed to be the self-titled debut album, and give fans what they’ve come to expect with anthems like “Weapons,” “Two Hands,” “Safe To Land” and “Heaven.” They’ve also mixed up their sound and pulled out all of the stops with inventive new electronic songs like the instrumental opener “The Long Fall,” “Closer,” “Don’t Stop,” “Boys (Lesson One)” and the closing song “Heart.” Whether you are a long-time fan of Jars of Clay or have recently discovered them, you won’t be disappointed with this album and you need to see them live if they come to a city near you.
Here is a song-by-song description of the concert.
Jars of Clay opened with the instrumental song, "The Long Fall," which reminds me of "Life In Technicolor" by Coldplay, and then did "Weapons," an anthemic cry out and reminder that "there are no enemies in front of you."
Next came "Work," one of my all-time favorites from Good Monsters. Steve's guitar work was stellar.
"Closer" is one of their fantastic new songs. It’s a love song from Dan to his wife. "I miss the shivers down my spine every time that we touch."
The electronic intro to "Heaven" is the best keyboard part since "Fade To Grey." I love the line in the song that says, "find what's glowing on the inside, showing on the inside."
Lead singer Dan Haseltine introduced the next song, "Safe to Land," as "the one we like to call our fighting song!" It's an amazing relationship song that says "I guess forgiveness hasn't happened yet, is it safe to land? The long fall back to earth is the hardest part."
When "Frail" started, the crowd erupted in cheers. This song, from Much Afraid, contains some very personal lyrics. "Feared this love's reaction like you said I would. If I was not so weak, I would be...frail." Steve told us that he heard "Frail" playing in the background on The Weather Channel. He told the story to illustrate that maybe that means Jars of Clay had really made it. Then again, hearing the song on that channel, or in an elevator, is not such a good thing. Dan then mentioned that he was invited to speak at conference about verses involving water: "...after all, our band is called Jars of Clay, so we must know about water.”
Next up was "Headphones," with the cool lyrics "chilled by the current events, There's a pop song in my head...with my headphones on."
After that, Dan asked the crowd if they were ready to do some singing, and then the band jumped into "I Need You" from The Eleventh Hour "You're all that I'm living for."
Dan then introduced one of the newer songs, "Boys (Lesson One)" by saying, "four of us have kids and our boys are always asking questions about things that matter. Sadly, we're a generation that cares deeply about things that don't matter. So we wrote this song to our boys.”
Lesson 1: "do not hide." Lesson 2: "there are right ways to fight." Lesson 3: "you're not alone...this will still be your home." I've been where you're going and it's not that far. You'll get there in time."
"Love Song For A Savior," is my all-time favorite song by Jars of Clay. "Someday we'll trust Him and learn how to see Him. I want to fall in love with You." I credit this song for leading me to seek a personal relationship with Jesus. I was saved three years later. The whole crowd sang the chorus in unison.
"Liquid" was next, complete with that great chant at beginning, just like on the original recording. This gave me goose bumps. "Arms nailed down, eyes turned out, this is one thing that I know, He didn't die for nothing!" An absolutely amazing song!
Jars then went into "Flood," the new version with guitar riffs from Closer EP. "Can't feel my feet touching the ground. Lift me up, when I'm falling, I'm weak and I'm drowning, I need You to hold me, to keep me from drowning again."
"Dead Man (Carry Me)" "I'm just a dead man lying on the carpet...can't find a heartbeat...I want to be a new man...tired of the old plan." Everybody was on their feet and dancing with this great song. The message is a great one as a Christian, that we are all new in Christ!
Dan talked about Blood Water Mission and also the recent tragedy in Haiti. He said that the parallel is that we need to think about how long can people survive without water? Even before the earthquake in Haiti, clean drinking water was a problem. Dan mentioned that in the lobby they were taking collections for Blood Water Mission. For a $1 donation an African can have clean water for one year. Dan’s plea was very convicting and moving.
Finally, the band closed with one of their biggest singles to date, "Two Hands." This song, which also happens to be my current ringtone, deals with our inborn, yet often unspoken desire to just do more for our world, while struggling to keep our innate selfishness in check.
If you get the chance to see Jars of Clay live in concert, don’t hesitate. They are truly one of the best bands in the business. For the past 15 years, they have consistently released great quality songs and never forsake message just to have great melodies, although they do have amazing melodies as well. There is something for everyone when you see them live. They will move you emotionally with songs about Jesus including “Love Song For A Savior” and “Liquid.” They will move you physically with great anthems “Flood,” “Work,” “Dead Man (Carry Me),” and “Two Hands.” Most of all what I love about Jars of Clay is how they’ll make you think about your relationships with people, especially with “Frail,” “Closer,” “Safe To Land,” and the great new song “Boys (Lesson One)”. After all, Jesus commands us to “love one another.”
Thank you Jars of Clay for your great songs and ministry, especially for Blood Water Mission.
Kevin Davis is a long time fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. Kevin also writes reviews for ChristianMusicReview.org. He currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.