Jars Of Clay, TobyMac, TAIT|
10/1/05, at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ
On Saturday, John and I travelled to East Rutherford, NJ for our first Autumn Blaze
festival experience. The night would be a once in a lifetime event that would make memories
for years to come. That event was to see two-thirds of dc Talk,
Tait and TobyMac play together, as well as their respective bands.
Also playing was a personal favorite, Jars of Clay, fresh off of their
John and I arrived around 2:30 and after getting our tickets,
proceeded to walk around the venue, checking out the local bands. Fast forward
to when the doors to the main event opened at 5:00 when Easton, PA natives, Kurios,
winners of the Scotch Plains Battle of the Bands, opened up the night
with their short set. A nice reward for the events to follow.
At 7:00 Tait, whose frontman is Michael Tait took the stage. It had been a
few years since I'd seen Tait play and was looking forward to hearing some of the
newer tracks off of Lose This Life. They opened up their set with
"Electric Avenue," making an understatement, to say the least about what would
occur within the next half hour. "Numb," "Lose This Life," and "All I Got"
followed, as well as Michael's story of how his father and his influence on
his life had contributed to the band's name. "Loss For Words" came soon
after, continuing to show how Tait definitely knows how to rock.
One thing that Michael, Toby and Kevin Max do (collectively and individually) are completely surround
themselves with excellent musicians. Tait consists of some of the best
musicians in the industry as evidenced by the member introduction that followed. With
influences like Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, Red Hot Chili Peppers and AC/DC, they
played the catchy Mission:Impossible theme intro to "Spy" and finished with a
bang, but not before the first of two long awaited moments. When the first few
bars of "Jesus Freak" and Michael's vocal's rang out, you could feel the magic in
the air and see the lens caps come off the cameras nearby as Toby came out to sing along.
After playing together twice last weekend and once as all three members of
dc Talk in Washington state, you could definitely see the energy, excitement and chemistry between the
two. It looked like they had never gone solo and dc Talk had never taken a break. It all looked so
natural. It was appropriate to play "Jesus Freak" in Tait's set, as
the band definitely gave it a harder edge comparable to its own sound.
It was definitely a treat to see the two of them play together again.
Overall, it would have been nice to see Tait play longer since it was only half an hour, but certainly
a good half hour at that.
Shortly after Tait finished, TobyMac took the stage with his crew.
This was the second time in two weeks we've seen them. While this was a shorter set, there
was more energy on stage and in the air, perhaps due to what was just seen and
what would be seen again before too long. Their set was about the same as the
previous week, save a few songs. They opened with "Get This Party Started,"
"Where My Freaks At," "Somebody's Watching," and "Diverse City."
"Gone," an emotional yet fun song about women taking a stand for purity in a relationship,
was followed by "Hey Now," the opening track on Welcome to Diverse City. "J Train," "Irene,"
"Yours," and a favorite of mine, "Slam," the song
inspired by The Passion of the Christ movie, also followed.
Toby and company slowed the set down a bit for "Love Is In The House" and "Atmosphere."
But we all knew that Michael Tait was backstage, and we weren't sure when he would might
come back onstage and start singing. "My Will," a dc Talk song from a few years back was performed,
but yet no sight of Michael. Once Toby read from I John 1:5-7 and the first few bars of "In The Light"
rang out, you knew what was coming next, and Michael came out to sing with Toby once more.
The energy was certainly in the air as the second of two anticipated events played itself out on stage.
You could still see the
camaraderie between Michael and Toby that people have been longing to see and
have missed for over the past three years. The one thing that seemed to be missing
was Kevin's signature vocal style. Michael left and Toby went old school on the crowd
as he introduced a little of his roots via Sister Sledge, Chic, Ohio Players, KC
And The Sunshine Band, and Wild Cherry to the crowd gathered in Continental
Airlines Arena. After a short break, Toby's entourage came back out to play
"Catchafire" and finally, "Extreme Days."
After about an hour break that involved an event speaker sharing the Gospel message with the audience, Jars Of Clay took the stage. I always look
forward to seeing Jars play live, having followed them since their self titled
debut album, and having been a big fan of their hymns and Southern spiritual remakes. Jars
opened with "Show You Love" from Who We Are Instead and "I Need You"
from The Eleventh Hour , one of only two songs off that album to be played.
They then proceeded with their own run of old school Jars tunes, playing
"Faith Like A Child" and "Love Song For A Savior," with a new ending that incorporated a portion of "Faith Enough." Jars has always had a great live sound, improving and evolving their set over
the years. This was the fourth time I'd seen Jars live and they've always
brought a smile to my face. Next, they played "The Valley Song" from
Furthermore and "Waiting for the World to Fall," a new song off the
Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack . This was my first time hearing the song and
it sounded great live. They then got acoustic again, losing the bass and drums, for
a great rendition of "Liquid," "Hiding Place" from Redemption Songs and the famous ad-lib segment of "Worlds Apart." This would be the first of two surprises
tonight. "Flood" was the second surprise of the night, which was played after
the powerful "God Will Lift Up Your Head," a great worship song dating back to the 1700's. The surprise was that those two songs would be played so early on in their set, leaving me to wonder what would be played during an encore. "Nothing But The Blood" and "It Is Well With
My Soul," a sad story to an encouraging hymn that puts life in perspective,
finished up their set for the evening. Jars has always had a gift for
reinventing themselves and doing the unexpected from a musical standpoint.
Tonight was no exception as they dashed some rock into traditional hymns.
Unfortunately, there was no encore performance as the house lights came on.
All in all their set was great, but seemed short and rushed. Nothing was mentioned
about their ministry for Africa, Bloodwater Mission, and some favorites like "I'll Fly Away," "This Road," and "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand" were overlooked. Having a catalog of ten years of
music gives you opportunity to play a lot, but due to time restraints, it was
kept short but sweet.
After Jars played, John and I said our hello goodbye's and left, but not
without catching another glimpse of Giant Stadium. The day had been long, but a
treat nonetheless. It was a night to remember because, well, time is tickin' away and who knows when we'll get to see Toby and Michael play together again, let alone dc Talk.
My first Autumn Blaze experience was a success. I hope the rosters for the
following years are good, but I don't think they'll compare to this year's.
-- Kevin Chamberlin, 10/2/05