Jars Of Clay, Sarah Kelly, Steven Delopoulos, Buster Soaries|
5/22/04, Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, PA
In celebration of The Word FM's 10 year anniversary, the local radio station brought in Jars Of Clay on their
current tour for an evening of pop/rock and worship. Getting started later than scheduled, the night opened with
former Burlap To Cashmere lead vocalist Steven Delopoulos, appearing with his cousin for a two-man
acoustic set. Coming off more like a poor man's Burlap show than a solo performance, the guys seemed like they
were trying too hard to compensate for their lack of a band by letting flat jokes fly in between the Spanish-influenced
acoustic numbers. Their short set was, quite frankly, not short enough in anticipation for the far more superior performance
that would follow.
Gotee Records newcomer Sarah Kelly took center stage with a full band backing her up. Surprisingly,
she opened with "Please Forgive Me", immediately taking a seat behind a keyboard. Her powerful vocals were even more commanding
in person than on her recent debut recording. Sarah wore her heart on her sleeve, excited to share her it with the audience any
chance she got. She encouraged the audience that God can and will use us in ways bigger than we can imagine. The passionate
delivery of her vocals was infectious as I found it difficult not to get into the music and share in her love for God's mercy and
blessing. Although she only played a short five-song set, they were well-selected and made for a great intimate and worshipful
Following Sarah's performance, New Jersey pastor and renowned speaker Buster Soaries came out to give a special
message to the young people in the audience. Buster used engaging stories and humor to effectively get his point across.
His message on 'why do smart people do dumb things?' sought to get to the bottom of why the children of today seem to lose
sight of their dreams and make poor life decisions.
After Soaries' in-depth message and an extensive intermission, Jars Of Clay emerged and wasted little time getting
things started, breaking into the bluegrass-influenced "Trouble Is". The foursome just aren't the same timid folk quartet
that struggled through the attention in the spotlight during their beginning days some nine years ago. They're pop/rock
veterans now and rather unrecognizable as the band they were. Following another new cut ("Sunny Days"), they offered up the
crowd-pleasing oldie (but very goodie), "Love Song For a Savior" with enthusiastic results. Frontman
Dan Haseltine is as energetic on stage as ever, moving about from one end to the other encouraging crowd participation.
The band also mixed dry humor with a tastefully melodramatic delivery successfully when addressing the crowd. Stories of Haseltine's
childhood and experiences with bluegrass at a young age served as an entertaining prologue to the wonderful
As someone who has followed the band since their days before the release of their debut when they opened for Minnesota
pop geniuses PFR, I have a hard time swallowing some of the more modern, showy approaches the band takes on old favorites.
Due to the runaway success and wide appeal of their 1995 hit "Flood", it probably isn't a wonder that Jars plays to the crowd
by using lights and sing-a-long moments to get the crowd going. But for JoC purists like myself, it just doesn't really feel right.
With that being the only complaint, I was delighted when Jars mixed up the setlist diversely to include the title track from
their popular indie release, Frail as well as their cover of U2's "All I Want" from the In The Name Of Love
project released earlier this year.
Surprisingly, Jars ended the night with the more upbeat and unusual crowd pleasers, "I'm Alright" and "Revolution". And
after a lengthy break before their encore (leaving the audience cheering for what seemed like minutes), the band came back to perform
"Bound For the Promised Land" (a song made popular by Johnny Cash), and the worshipful "This Road" which Jars offered
as a benediction to the audience. When all was said and done, the evening left a lasting impression. The artists' music
paired with Soaries' message made it a memorable event. And while the maturation that Jars Of Clay has undergone in the past
decade may be a bit difficult for older fans to adjust to, the quartet still puts on a great show that shouldn't be missed.
-- John DiBiase, 5/24/04