Sometimes seeing a live performance, especially one you need to drive an hour-plus to, can feel like visiting family or an old friend. Seeing the legendary CCM veteran Steven Curtis Chapman in concert is always a treat and with his Live In This Moment Tour, fans are treated also to the pop/rock sounds of Sanctus Real and pop/acoustic soloist Bethany Dillon.
We arrived at Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA early to spend a little two-on-one time interviewing Steven for JFH before the 7:30pm show time. The doors opened an hour before, and those who came early to the general admission show had plenty of time to browse the merch tables for the artists as well as learn about the Chapman's involvement in the support of adopting young orphans. Ohioan Bethany Dillon kicked off the evening, complete with a full band made up of members of Chapmans' entourage and Sanctus Real - specifically the latter's bassist Dan Gartley and guitarist Pete Provost, and the former's son, William Franklin Chapman on drums. This surely wasn't Dillon's usual acoustic show, but it allowed her to present her songs in a new light, opening with the upbeat fan favorite "All I Need," and continuing with "Let Your Light Shine." Dillon candidly introduced the romantic "When You Love Someone" by mentioning her recent engagement and how the early stages of her relationship with fellow artist Shane Barnard (of Shane & Shane) inspired the song. Another fan favorite, "Beautiful," was the final offering from Dillon and her trio of performers, as the stage cleared soon after to leave the teenager standing alone with her acoustic. In Bethany Dillon's classic minimalistic fashion, she closed her set with a newer offering, the gorgeous, emotionally charged ballad "On Our Side."
A remarkably quick set change made way for Dillon's fellow Ohioans Sanctus Real to assume center stage for their night's offering. "Everything About You," from their sophomore effort, Fight The Tide, kicked things off for a worshipful feel, before the brutally honest and catchy "I'm Not Alright" followed. As a standout track from their current release, The Face Of Love, "I'm Not Alright" began a string of cuts from that album, with the anthem for perseverance through trials in love, "Don't Give Up" falling next in line. The beautiful and painful ballad born out of simultaneous loss and gain, "Benjamin," was a fantastic set surprise, while the worshpful vibe of "The Face Of Love" served as a compliment to succeed it. Sanmctus Real was a good choice for the tour, serving as a great way to slowly warm up for SCC's grand performance. The evening's musical lineup had a nice flow, without any act sounding too much alike or too drastic in difference either. To close their surprisingly short set, Sanctus debuted a new song - the title track from the February release, We Need Each Other. The perfect ending to a strong six-song setlist, "We Need Each Other" received an emphatic audience reception, which ended with a standing ovation from much of the crowd.
Steven Curtis Chapman emerged immediately after Sanctus' set to talk about adoption and supporting families trying to adopt, also informing his audience that a ticker in the corner of a large screen spread behind the artists performing was showing the concert-goers how many children had become orphans around the world in the time that had gone by. With the statistic that a child becomes an orphan every 18 seconds, by the end of the night, the count had climbed to an overwhelming 620 orphans. Chapman encouraged the audience to give to the Show Hope movement which would give sponsor money to a family in the Calvary Church's community that are trying to adopt a child. Steven told of the large buckets that were for collecting people's spare change and cash as "Change For Orphans" to help support, and departed from the stage for a fifteen minute intermission.
Before too long, the lights dimmed one last time and the sweet, sweet sound of possibly Steven's most recognizable song of all time, "The Great Adventure," sounded throughout the church sanctuary. Chapman's setup filled the stage, showcasing a giant screen between large burgundy curtains (which may or may not have been part of the church -- whether or not they were, they worked wonderfully into the show backdrop). Four sets of street lamps that would illuminate at key moments throughout the set, were spread out across the width of the stage, while the screen would switch between design patterns, lyrics, and even poignant footage from song to song. "Children Of God," from Steven's brand new release This Moment appropriately followed, even featuring a guest vocal spot from oldest son, Caleb Chapman. Before the end of the song, Steven invited fans who had made signs bearing lyrics from the song to join him on stage to aid him in the crowd participation. Then the Paducah, Kentucky native kept the audience's enthusiasm ignited as he resurrected an old fan favorite with "Let Us Pray," before slowing things just a bit for "Fingerprints Of God." When the infectiously catchy "Something Crazy" followed, an animated video created by one of his sons shown behind the band as they played. Steven then took a break to share the story behind the inspiration for his new album's first single and anthem, "Miracle Of The Moment."
Steven Curtis' concerts are always given a personal touch when he pauses to share family stories. In the past, fans would hear stories about his oldest daughter Emily and sons Caleb and Will Franklin, but with those children almost all grown up (and even now on tour with him), his young children stories now come from his three adopted Asian daughters. Chapman openly shared a specific instance where he rushed through bathtime with his two youngest girls to get them in bed so he could go get work on the new record done, later feeling convicted by God for rushing through moments that he misses spending with his oldest daughter. This all became inspiration for a new song that would be end up being the night's most heart-wrenching moment as he performed the moving ballad, "Cinderella." And as the band performed, a video displayed behind them of a silhouette of Steven dancing with a little girl as she grows up over time and moves on. The sentimental song left plenty of audience members wiping their eyes or with a lump in their throat.
With having twenty years of music to his name, Steven has oftentimes worked some of his fans' favorites into a medley, and the latest mix was one of his best to date. As he sat perched on a stool with just Will Franklin on percussion and a bass and keyboard to accompany him as well, an acoustic mix followed. Beginning with "More To This Life," it was evident that much of the audience was more than familiar with his catalog of music, as each successive song got a warmer, more excited reception. "More To This Life" lead into "I Will Be Here," and on into "For The Sake Of The Call," "King Of The Jungle," "Free," "Not Home Yet," "Change," and ending beautifully with the delectable sound of "The Walk." The band cleared out and Steven shared once again about adoption and the inspiration for "When Love Takes You In," which he performed alone with merely a piano and the concept video playing behind him for the song with real-life families' adoption moment footage mixed in. When he finished, his band returned to the stage, and the energy picked up again with the catchy and worshipful "Magnificent Obsession" from his album, Declaration. To continue the worshipful atmosphere, Chapman introduced "My Redeemer" from his 1987 debut album First Hand, and played that before the always memorable "Speechless." "Speechless" blended right into a few refrains of Delirious' "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever," and then on into the final new cut from This Moment for the night, the upbeat "You Are Being Loved." The evening went out with a bang as Steven Curtis and band moved into two final hits, "Live Out Loud" and "Dive," which he prefaced with an official band introduction. At the close of the set, SCC and his entourage took a bow and his team exited, leaving Chapman alone on stage once again. At this point, Steven drew attention to the orphan counter on the screen and its total number of over 620, and announced the financial support amount that had been raised with the "Change For Orphans" campaign earlier in the night. Chapman presented a check of $2,200 to the local family who had just adopted a child, and it brought a wonderful ending to a fantastic evening of music and worship.
Few artists have truly left an impression on Christian music like Steven Curtis Chapman. Even after twenty years, Chapman still puts on an incredible show and he always surrounds himself with fantastic musicians and standout opening acts. Whether you can catch The Live In This Moment Tour this Fall or perhaps an upcoming performance on a different tour, make sure you experience his live show soon. It's not one to miss.-- John DiBiase, 11/14/07
Steven Curtis Chapman
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