I just read an [older – Jan., 2007] article about the whereabouts of John James , former lead singer of The Newsboys. This is a sadly painful story on one hand, yet his redemption will leave you feeling great joy and in awe, once again, of what the Lord can do. I pray you’ll take time to read it, if you haven’t already seen it.
I know an article over a year old is not ground-breaking news. However, there was a point in the article that really got to me. John speaks about the adoration, cheering, worship of the fans. The CHRISTIAN fans. And it got me to wondering how that can happen. How we, as Christians, can come to a point where – like the world – we idolize the musician or group instead of enjoy the worship of the One it is intended to honor?
My family has been to a number of concerts featuring Christian artists. We’ve “met” many Christian performers. We walked a table line for Audio A, Rebecca St. James and a few other big names in Christian music. Been there, done that, have the T-shirts. But I think the most memorable times, for our family, were the times we truly got to spend with these musicians and band members – talking about what God is doing in their lives, and in our lives. My kids spent hours with Pigeon John, Riley Armstrong, and Red Cloud at LifeLight one year. And these performers talked to these kids about God, about where they stood with His Son. We’ve spent real time with Jeremy Camp, the guys from [now defunct] OC Supertones, Scott Kirkpayne. We worked the merch table with Chris and Matt of Sanctus Real – and had wonderful conversations with these guys. When Morgan Cryer came to town, my daughter went to lunch with the pastor’s family [her bff’s dad!] and Morgan. He even fixed her hair ribbon – stopped it from ravelling. I remember her saying, “Mom – he’s a real person just like everyone else!”
And that’s the point – these are real people, just like we are. They are fellow brothers-in-Christ. They need the same edification, love and accountability as everyone else. They do not need us to adore them for what they do. They need us to love them for who they are. Now, I’m not saying that every artist and every venue will allow for you to spend time with these people. But where there is opportunity, meet them – love them as brothers. Unless you are a journalist covering the concert, I’m pretty sure you will find they love to talk about things other than their music! That’s what we’ve found.
Orchestra, that is. Last night my husband and I went to see Trans Siberian Orchestra at the QWest Center in Omaha. You’ll have to forgive the “stock” photo, but the QWest is very serious about their no camera policy. Hubby was taking a few pictures with his cell phone when a big, burly, security guy waggled his head and finger at him in international “No! No! Bad patron!” fashion.
TSO puts on quite the show. They entertained the audience, and I mean ENTERTAINED us, for almost three solid hours. They did the music from “The Lost Christmas Eve” CD, with other songs woven in. It was impressive to hear how seamlessly the other songs blended with the storyline being presented.
I did not get to “see” much of the performance – especially those things happening stage right. We were on the north side of the arena bowl, with the stage set to the east. I sat next to the only person (I could see) who did not understand they needed to sit erect and turned slightly left in order for the person beside them (me) to be able to see. Since ‘Sec. 119, Row 4, Seat 8′ had already downed one beer and was well into her second (with a third in the wings – in MY seat’s cup-holder), I didn’t think pointing this small etiquette breach out was prudent, so I just sat back and enjoyed my ears. And I could see everything to stage left fine, so I did also get to “tickle” my eyes a bit.
The group has one of the most sensational sound and light setups I have ever seen. They have a crew of seventy-five roadies that set them up, break them down, and run sound and lights for each show. And we were told last night that this tour they did a five day stint with EIGHT shows. And this is no slouch job! TSO has a light bridge that is double rowed, with five panels each. Each panel had thirty floodlights and one huge spot. Each panel was independent in movement, and believe me they were running some pretty interesting configurations with the total ten panels! And it was all done on computer. I was sitting about 50′ away from the sound booth on the floor and I was amazed at the things I saw them do – and the display on the screens let me know what was coming about two seconds prior to it hitting the lights. The lights ON stage were unbelievable also. They had “side curtain” and a “canopy” of light screens that they ran a plethora of different patterns and colors on. Additionally, they had individual columns of lights directly behind the players. These, too, were run by computer. Oh! And they also had flames! Big, towering, colored, HOT flames! I am certain that the flashing could have provoked seizures – especially when they turned everything on to prove how well rested the crew was after two days off!
To accommodate the “bowl” arena, TSO would occasionally come down to our end and do some things on a platform. We had a solo performance done by one of the talented singing gals. We had the crazed violinist and one of the guitar players raised into the air about 25’ above us for a duet at one point. And flames – yes, we had flames on a platform at our end. As I was sitting there, feeling the heat, I was pondering…. “If the building catches fire, do I sit calmly and pray it will be contained quickly, OR do I run with everyone else?”
I had decided I’d take my chances on quick containment, but it was not necessary either way. The pyrotechnics knew exactly what they were doing at all times – and, as always God was in control!
So, that was the last concert for the Schneider holiday season. We gave fleeting thought to Van Halen in February (Their ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ tour was our first date back in 1991), but were quickly scared off by the prices! I mean, really, there are villages I can feed in Africa for the cost of two tickets! Well, maybe only 1/2 a village…..