|More Than Just Great Music | Posted September 24, 2012
Having conquered everything from spinning drum risers and retractable cranes, to unharnessed bungee jumps and inflatable airdomes, when you hear the phrase "Newsboys concert," there's a good chance you're thinking of more than just a night of great music. Sure, you'll get that, but if there is one thing fans of the band with a 20+ year history have learned through the course of their evolving line-up, it's that they like to put on a top-notch show.
2011 brought us the group's latest effort, God's Not Dead--their first worship project in eight years and their first since Michael Tait stepped up to the plate as lead vocalist. Having already firmly established the band's new image/sound with 2010's smash, Born Again, expectations ran high when the group announced their 60-city God's Not Dead World Tour for Spring 2012.
Wanting to take a more vertical approach to this tour, the band left behind most of their technical goodies, minus the drum riser, and set out on the road with the mission to lead people in worship--Newsboys style. The tour was a success in terms of numbers, and saw nearly 5,000 kids sponsored through Compassion International. Yet again, the band proved why they're a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
Recorded at both Lifest and Sonshine festivals this past Summer, and coming as their first live project since 2008, Live In Concert: God's Not Dead encapsulates the Newsboys newly adopted stage performance at it was heard all across this US this Spring and again this Fall. The album not only showcases a few re-vamped Newsboys hits for the first time since Tait took over lead vocals, but also highlights some of their newest and most acclaimed work.
The blazing rock and roll track "Escape" starts the album with a bang, alongside the strident roaring of thousands fans in the audience. The momentum keeps rolling with the band redefining hit, "Born Again." The live version almost perfectly mimes the studio recording, and showcases the musical talent the band possesses outside of their entertainment aspect.
Dipping into the archives, the Michael Tait fronted version of "Something Beautiful" will be a treat for longtime fans, the quartet putting a modern spin on the now career classic.
After introducing the Minnesota crowd to the fact they're going to be featured on the live album their recording that night, the band dives straight into their worship centered set list, playing recent tunes such as "The King Is Coming," and their rendition of Jesus Culture‘s "Your Love Never Fails."
The passionate "Here We Stand" lends a nice addition, and transitions directly into one of the band most recognizable hits, "He Reigns." Throwing in a touch of humor before the song begins, it turns into one of the most moving moments on the project, classic hymn "Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus" making a brief appearance on the end. The massive crowd singing the latter in one voice is sure to give every listener chills.
Newsboys version of Hillsong tune "Mighty To Save" concludes the praise portion, coming back into pop/rock territory with the infectious, "Save Your Life." While the stellar background vocals of guitarist Jody Davis are muted far more on this version then they are on the original, it's still a fun song to hear live.
Aggressive pop fan favorite, "Miracles" comes next, and leads to the addition of "Jesus Freak," the history-making song Michael first recorded with dcTalk 17 years ago. Newsboys have been performing this song since his joining, it now being one of the most exciting moments of their show. George Moss, a rapper often seen with KJ-52 (who, ironically, does the rap on the band's studio version) steps up in this case and brings his own flair to one of the most famous raps in Christian music.
Coming back for an encore due to the crowd's demand for "one more song," keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein shares a short lesson on the topic of God's existence. Dispelling the theory of evolution, addressing several questions atheists ask and sharing the beauty of the gospel, it's a thought provoking/faith affirming message, and is the perfect opening for the band's current hit, "God's Not Dead."
Bringing things to a close on a Jesus-focused note, "Revelation Song" begins with heart pounding drums courtesy of drummer Duncan Phillips, and ends powerfully with crashing applause and cheers of praise.
As someone who adores the pulsating concert experience, when it comes to live albums, I hold a high standard. Often times, they either sound too studio polished and don't sound like a live recording at all, or they're left so rough and unrefined that they're, frankly, grueling to sit through. It's rare to find a CD that sits somewhere in the middle and captures the live experience with excellence. Newsboys however, have done just that with Live In Concert: God's Not Dead.
There are a few trivial production hiccups here and there, but that's expected of any live recording, and are disregarded as listeners engage with the album's fun and worshipful feel. While this will never fully capture the thrill of attending one of the band's shows (a show well worth the price of admission, might I add), this does a fantastic job of summing it up and making you feel like part of the audience. This is a treat for Newsboys fans, and paints for those still unsure about the change, or just unfamiliar with their history, a clear picture of their continually solid musical performances.
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