Kutless and Mark Schultz Shine on The Every Child is Beautiful Tour
NRT's J.J. Francesco recaps one of the highlight tours of the fall.

With summer festivals getting farther and farther in the rearview, it's once again time for artists to get fired up for their own cross-country tours.

One of the tours getting a lot of attention is the Every Child is Beautiful Tour with Kutless and Mark Schultz. Boasting a solid 5 artists on the program, this is a jam-packed evening with a talent pool spanning a lot of the musical spectrum.

Natasha Owens opens the night with her take on the contemporary music scene, offering a sound that is engaging and familiar. Natasha has a likable stage presence and was successful in adding energy and genuine worship to her set. "We Will Rise" was a particular highlight, closing her set in a rousing fashion.

Rising star David Dunn was up next. David Dunn has recently captured some attention with the popular pop single "Today is Beautiful" from his album Crystal Clear.The song itself is a great reminder of seeing the beauty in each day and translated well to the live setting. New single "Ready To Be Myself" is also a sure hit in the making. Dunn's engaging and laid-back personality made his set a memorable part of the night.

Rush of Fools always provides a very exciting and engaging performance. Given the laid-back feel of many of their hits, you might not expect them to have a high-energy set. But songs like "Lay Me Down" and "Lose It All" were genuinely fun and engaging pop/rock highlights. With a fun and passionate energy, Rush of Fools kept the night's momentum going and served as a great bridge between the openers and the more well-known names.

Mark Schultz has written some of the most well-known and iconic contemporary Christian hits of the past decade. Known for both soaring worship and deeply personable story songs, Schultz performed a mix of new tunes and classics to great fan response. "Letters from War" is a legitimate classic, and seeing it performed live was a true treat. 

Newer songs from a recently released EP also demonstrate that Schultz still has the talent for capturing the story of being human in song form. One of the evening's true surprises was when Schultz referenced his hit song "Walking Her Home" in passing at the end of his set, and the audience erupted in chants for him to play the song. Schultz promised to play the song at the end of the night for those who stuck around, and sure enough, chants of "Mark" broke out after Kutless finished their encore. Schultz gracefully complied, surprised at how many stuck around. And so a non-headliner actually performed an encore, and "Walking Her Home" was another of the night's more memorable highlights.

Kutless is one of the industry's most versatile bands. Known to rock out with heavy, gritty rock and also known to add some energy to popular praise and worship, Kutless has done it all. Their career, however, has trended towards the latter lately, and thus their setlist reflected this. But rock hits like "Shut Me Out" and "If It Ends Today" were still real treats that got people pumped. 

I wish there were a few more of those rock moments scattered throughout the show and not just clustered at the start. Still, worship hits like Kutless' signature "Strong Tower" and their rock makeover of "It Is Well" were wonderful and uplifting rock worship that were great caps to the evening. New single "Bring It On" seems to balance the rock and worship energy a bit in the same way songs like "Strong Tower" did. Look for this song to potentially crash radio playlists in the coming weeks.

Closing Thoughts
Holt International sponsored the evening, and it's always great to be reminded of how many children in the world are in need of a "forever home." Mark Schultz made an especially good case for this, being an adoptee himself. 

One of the things I always like about Christian concerts is how the evenings are often about more than just entertainment. Fittingly, there's a greater purpose to the night. Still, in this case especially, the musical entertainment is also top-notch. While I personally would've liked a few more of Kutless' originals and a bit less of the standard covers, the night is an undeniable deal. Boasting 5 talented artists, this is definitely a tour to check out if it comes to your town. Bring the whole family and enjoy a show that can engage, entertain, uplift and most importantly, point towards the real joy that is Jesus Christ. 

Favorite Performances From Each Artist:
"We Will Rise" (Natasha Owens)
"Today is Beautiful" (David Dunn)
"Lose It All" (Rush of Fools)
"Letters From War" (Mark Schultz)
"If It Ends Today" (Kutless) 

Personal Favorites I Wish Were Played That Weren't, That You Should Look Up Anyway: "When Our Hearts Sing" (Rush of Fools), "He's My Son" (Mark Schultz), "Sea of Faces," "I'm With You," "Promise of a Lifetime," "To Know That You're Alive" (Kutless)

Photo by Matthew Battershell

J.J. Francesco is an aspiring fiction writer who enjoys Christian rock, good movies and TV, good food, and good company.

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