Newsboys, Rebecca St. James, Jeremy Camp|
2/15/04, Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, PA
It's always a treat when a tour is so thoughtfully planned to feature some pretty well matched talent.
Since the rise of modern worship, seasoned CCM artists who have made a name for themselves with their own brand
of original positive pop music have left a lasting impression with their take on worship favorites. Artists
like Third Day, Rebecca St. James, and more recently the Newsboys have all raised the bar for what listeners should
come to expect from a worship recording. So it's to the concert-goers utmost delight that the 2004 Spring
Adoration Tour should feature the pairings of Newsboys and Rebecca St. James with special guest Jeremy Camp.
You can bet we were pleased to learn The Adoration Tour was making a stop not more than 20 minutes from our
HQ this month -- a far cry from our usual several-hour trips to see a show. Arriving with time to spare is a rarity
for us but we successfully pulled it off this time around by the grace of God! And to add to our surprise, the
evening's event began quite promptly at 6 PM when Jeremy Camp and his band kicked off the worship service with
his original "Understand". Camp had just released his debut worship project Carried Me earlier that week,
but worship wasn't anything new for him either. His debut project Stay was very worship-minded and
centered around God's mercy and faithfulness. Carried Me took all this to the next level focusing
on adoration and servitude. Camp, aided by his new bride Adrienne (formerly of the late Benjamin Gate),
was a good warm-up act for the night but was surprisingly short as his set lasted a mere 5 songs. Highlights
of his performance included a brief testimony about his first wife who died of cancer and the introduction
of Adrienne that lead into his heartfelt "I Still Believe" as well as his rocking "Take My Life".
A swift set change wasted little time before the first of the two Australian-bred headliners
assumed the stage. Rebecca St. James opened modestly with an a cappella version of Tim Hughes's "Here I Am
To Worship", setting the mood before proceeding into her upbeat original "Lamb Of God". A full band, along with
one of her younger brothers and solo artist Charmaine on backup vocals, served as her
accompaniment while she utilized a massive screen behind her as a display for lyrics for the crowd
to sing along to. Covers of popular worship songs like "Let My Words Be Few", "Power Of Your Love",
and "Breathe" were mixed in with some of her original favorites like "Song Of Love", "You" and "Omega".
Rebecca debuted a new cut from her pending live worship project
called "I Adore You" that fit in well with the other more well-known choices. A surprise inclusion
to her worship setlist was her purity anthem "Wait For Me", which she prefaced with a message of encouragement
to the audience to remain pure and abstinent before marriage. St. James also took a moment to encourage
the audience to support Mel Gibson's new Jesus film The Passion Of The Christ before the band pulled up
a few stools for a brief acoustic set that included "Breathe" and "Here I Am To Worship" to close out her show.
Before intermission broke, Rebecca and Jeremy Camp took some time to urge the crowd to sponsor a child through
After a brief intermission, the Newsboys began shortly after 8 PM
as the evening's main attraction, igniting the crowd through the opening resonating notes of their song "Joy".
The stage had been reorganized to place the drums and keyboards on risers on opposite sides of the stage, framing
the gigantic screen which the Newsboys now used to broadcast live feed of the band and occasional accompanied images.
Fans may have also noticed a significant lineup change in the band as well, as their longtime guitarist Jody Davis
was absent, replaced by Casting Pearl's guitarist Bryan Oleson. Considering Davis had been a part of the Newsboys
team for over a decade, it seemed odd not to see him among his bandmates. Oleson did his best to fill Jody's roomy
shoes and did a fine job doing so. However, it wasn't made clear about Davis's whereabouts until after the show
when we asked Oleson who informed us that Jody wasn't returning.
From the set opener of "Joy", the band moved into the less familiar "Name Above All Names", an odd choice
for a second song as it is one that has never made it to a Newsboys recording. But the crowd-pleasing pop
gem "Million Pieces" followed, complete with dual funnels jutting from the stage blasting red, white, and blue
confetti into the audience. Keeping the crowd's excitement running high, they moved into the classic "Entertaining Angels"
with bassist Phil Joel assuming lead vocals. But the evening highlight came next as Peter invited
Rebecca St. James back out on stage to perform "Blessed Be Your Name" with the Newsboys. It was a treat
for the audience and an opportunity we're glad they took advantage of. The song was given a wonderful finishing
touch as frontman Peter Furler closed it out with a soft ode to "Beautiful Sound" from LoveLibertyDisco.
The guintet returned
to their regular worship set with "You Are My King (Amazing Love)" and an extended version of their hit original "He Reigns".
Furler then took a substantial amount of time to share his heart with the crowd before closing with the
everlasting hit "Shine". And as if we'd actually believe it was over, the guys momentarily exited the stage only
to return a minute later for "It Is You" and then finally leave the audience as they sing the worshipful chorus
powerfully with a drum loop
as their only accompaniment. The Newsboys offered a well-rounded set that surprisingly didn't include very
many cuts from their Adoration album, forsaking such wonders as "Father Blessed Father", "Hallelujah",
and "Lord (I Don't Know)".
The end result for the evening was a tightly woven evening of worship, praise, and adoration for our Savior. The
presentation and performances were top-notch, easily securing this as the must-see tour of Spring 2004. If you like
any of the artists in the lineup or are looking for a different kind of modern worship tour, we just can't
recommend The Adoration Tour enough.
-- John, 2/18/04