A rising trend in today's music scene is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Last Fall, Switchfoot played their brand new record Hello Hurricane live from top to bottom. The idea didn't originate with Switchfoot, but it's a cool concept that's sadly put into practice too infrequently. This year, several artists are either doing reunion shows like this (The Juliana Theory, for example) or making plans to do a similar concept at their live show. The latest to put it into action is Sanctus Real with their brand new record, Pieces Of A Real Heart. For the tour, titled after the record, the band performed all twelve songs in a row as they appear on the record, then followed those with a few fan favorites.
When we caught the band at a stop at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, it was among a string of eleven straight dates. Because all of the dates would put a strain on Sanctus vocalist Matt Hammitt's pipes, they decided that not every show would consist of the entire album being played. Thankfully, they made tonight an exception and would proceed to play all of Pieces Of A Real Heart during their set.
But accompanying the band tonight were three lead-off acts. The first of which is one of Centricity Music's newest signings, Me In Motion. MIM has been touring on some high profile tours for a couple years now, even making appearances at a few festivals along the way. March of this year saw the national release of their self-titled debut and their live set consisted of four selections from that record. They got off to a strong and infectious start with "Losers." The pop rock trio have a great stage presence and a catchy sound that translates even better live. They performed "Leaving Here Someday" before front man Seth Mosley paused to share a verse from the Bible to lead into their two newest songs, "Seek Justice, Love Mercy," and finally, "The God I Know."
The chapel at Lancaster Bible College is a great place to host a concert. There's a balcony up top for those who would rather have a bird's eye view, while the standing room up front allows fans to get right up to the steps of the stage and close to the performances. So if you want to stand or prefer to sit, there are plenty of options for getting a decent view of the event taking place.
Sparrow Records' Above the Golden State were next. They opened with the title cut from their new EP, The Golden Rule, offering another batch of catchy pop rock songs that are easy to sing a long too. This was the first time I was able to see the guys live and they did a valiant job, offering five tracks spread across their two releases, including "Real You," and their most recognizable song, "Sound of Your Name."
After another set change, the soft sounds of pop act Addison Road were up. This hasn't been the easiest year for them as earlier in the tour (mid-March), their bus caught on fire and everything in it burned to the ground. Still, the band has kept pressing on, and they performed a very worshipful set including songs from their debut as well as their upcoming new record, Stories. They ended their performance with an emotionally charged intimate moment with their song, "What Do I Know Of Holy." Right after their set, speaker Sammy Adebiyi came out to talk to the audience about the ministry MochaClub and encouraged the crowd to sign up to help supply Africans with clean water for just the price of two mocha drinks a month.
Sanctus Real emerged on stage after another set change, opening appropriately with their latest record's first track, "Forgiven." The guys looked comfortable on stage playing the new songs, and the tracks came to life in the live setting in a way that a studio recording just can't convey. "These Things Take Time" and "The Way The World Turns" were next, before Hammitt stopped to tell the crowd about the next song, "Lead Me," which was inspired by some personal marital issues. The song was born out of his wife asking him to be more of a leader in their household and Matt penned it as a prayer for change in his heart. It was especially cool that his wife (and one of their children) was in the audience that night, which made the song even more meaningful. "The Redeemer," the rocker "Take Over Me," "I Want To Get Lost," "'Til I Got To Know You," and "Dear Heart" all followed pretty quickly in succession. The album seemed to breeze by (which also felt like the case when Switchfoot played Hello Hurricane), and Hammitt would pause again to share about the song "I'll Show You How To Live" being about God's view of our lives, and how it means a lot more to them now that several of them are going to be fathers (either for the first time or again) this year. They closed the set of album tracks with "Keep My Heart Alive," before playing some other Sanctus classics.
The selections were mostly radio hits, starting with "Whatever You're Doing (Something Heavenly)," and moving into "The Face Of Love," before Hammitt shared about how we all need to support each other, leading into the anthemic "We Need Each Other." Afterwards, Sammy came back out to make the announcement that because of those in attendance that night who signed up for MochaClub, approximately 6,048 Africans would have clean water for a year! It's a pretty incredible thought that because a couple hundred people attended a rock concert and wanted to support a ministry like MochaClub that that many people could be helped too. When Sammy was done, Sanctus Real came back out for an encore, performing "Everything About You," "I'm Not Alright," and closing - surprisingly - with the title track from their debut album, Say It Loud. It was a great mix of songs (although the selection did lean a bit more towards their contemporary/pop tracks than their rock sound).
Although not every audience will get to see and hear Sanctus perform Pieces Of A Real Heart in its entirety live, it was a great experience that gave the album an added depth for this particular listener. Again, I hope more bands take the opportunity to play full albums from start to finish in the future, and perhaps Sanctus Real will do it again with this and future projects.-- John DiBiase, 4/30/10
Me In Motion:
Above The Golden State:
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