Rebecca St. James, Charmaine|
6/7/03, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
With just weeks before Amy and I were to take the vows, we hopped in our luxurious 1990 Plymouth Voyager
minivan and attempted to locate Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia for a Rebecca St. James performance one Saturday evening.
I had just spent a frustrating morning trying to get an oversized couch in our new apartment doorway (well,
actually, the delivery guys did... took them an hour to get it in the door, but anyway...), and Amy's accompanying
me was a very last minute plan change as the night before had been her bachelorette party. Needless
to say, a rushed early afternoon became a downright panic as we ended up circling areas of Eastern Pennsylvania
in a desperate attempt to find this venue. Of course a little road rage seized me as time consumed the
scheduled interview we were to have with Rebecca -- an interview this webmaster's been trying to secure for
almost five years. And of course I felt silly as we arrived a half hour late to discover Rebecca was also
just arriving there -- just as late. God was in control -- a lesson in humility. :)
Following a rushed but fun interview with miss Rebecca Smallbone (aka St. James),
we waited around for the show to start and watched as quite the impressive crowd filed into the sizable sanctuary
at Calvary Church. Newcomer Charmaine, also a native of Australia, opened the night offering an a cappella
rendition of her hit "All About You" followed immediately by her upbeat "I Love You Lord" and ending with "All In All".
Her short performance could have gone on a little longer, but she served as a good primer for the night's main act.
With a good ten years under her proverbial musical belt, Rebecca St. James knows pretty well by now how to move a crowd.
The always snazzy-dressed St. James emerged with her power pop hit "Reborn" sporting a back-up band that surprisingly
wasn't Fusebox. With a band that mostly blended in with the scenery while St. James illuminated the stage,
the only other stage members (may I say "stage member"?) that were recognizable were one of St. James' many
brothers contributing BGV's along with Charmaine. Continuing what would prove to be a solid and versatile
set list, Rebecca offered her latest hit "I Thank You" followed by a light show-enhances drum solo from her
band (yeah, not from her specifically). Her worshipful original "Song of Love" lead into a signature St. James
scripture reading before her moving and energetic rendition of her classic "Go & Sin No More". A short
but passionate and extremely important message on purity followed the runaway hit "Wait For Me" as
Rebecca shared from her heart.
To everyone's surprise, Rebecca took a short break to allow Charmaine to resume center stage for her
performance of "Acceptable" from her debut project, All About Jesus. Following the sadly brief reintroduction
to Charmaine, Rebecca returned with her melodic "You" before the delightfully more rousing worship tunes "Quiet You With
My Love", "Let My Words Be Few" and "Lamb of God". St. James & band slowed things back down for a brief acoustic set
that allowed the group to make use of some stools to take a break from standing. Following the intimate worship
set that included "Breathe", "Above All", and the late great Rich Mullins' "Awesome God", Rebecca shared from the stage
again a brief message on her heart, and urged the audience to accept Christ if they didn't know Him or for those
who have strayed some to recommit their lives. She urged those who wanted to make these commitments to step forward
as she played the emotional "Yes, I Believe In God", a song Rebecca penned to honor those murdered in the Columbine
high school shooting a couple years ago. With a "Hallelujah" chorus, she brought the altar call to a close
and continued to offer a rocking renditon of "God" before ending the evening with a reprise of "Awesome God".
Following her show, Rebecca and company stuck around to sign autographs and meet fans. At 25 (now 26 by the time
this review is written), Rebecca St. James is proving she's a leading lady in Christian music and knows how to rock
just as well as she knows how to worship. She's an amazing gal doing amazing things for the kingdom and her concerts
are perfect examples of this. Thanks Rebecca.
-- John, 8/3/03