As fall tours get underway, there's always a must-see one that becomes the goal of most concert-goers to catch. Some you pray to come (like the upcoming PfR tour, but that's a different story...). Others you're just thrilled when they do come around. In any case, this fall's Three O'Clock Parade Tour featuring headliners Jars of Clay and special guests Jennifer Knapp, and one of my favorites, Luna Halo was on my list and it was worth the wait.
After the typical JfH crew two hour drive to the venue-- this time being Shippensburg University-- we arrived this time several hours before the show to ensure nothing will be missed and that we'll be able to be more relaxed. We had the pleasure of interviewing Luna Halo's Nathan Barlowe and Jonny MacIntosh that afternoon. We decided to just wait around for the show to start...
Around start time at 7:00pm, the four guys from Luna Halo strolled out onto the instrument-laden stage. About 3 sets of drums were set up-- 2 covered of course, and other various musical toys strewn about. The band opened up with "Beautiful" from their debut CD, Shimmer. The band exerted the same incredible emotion and presence that the CD emits. It was a spectacular set that sinfully only lasted a total of four songs. The audience was left with just a tease, as well as Luna, when they left the stage. Following "Beautiful," the band performed lead singer Nathan Barlowe's personal favorite, "Forgiveness," an upbeat but worshipful tune about God's mercy. "Superman," the single the band is most currently known for took the third spot, with an all-out version of "So Far" as the set-closer. When I later expressed to Nathan my disappointment for the short set, he agreed and said, "Yeah, we don't even usually get warmed up until the third song-- and then it's over!" But it was evident he wasn't too bitter about it when he joked with a laugh, "We tell people not to go to the bathroom at the beginning of the show because they'd miss our set!"
After a short set change, Miss Jennifer Knapp entered the stage with her band and opened with "Into You." Knapp's show always seems to be a lot more electric and edgier than her recordings. Although the Listen:Louder compilation recorded version of "A Little More" showcases her live sound better than her Lay It Down album version, he recorded songs are still generally more toned down than her energetic live shows. Other tracks she did live were "A Little More," "Lay It Down," "Refine Me," "Undo Me," as well as others. The highlight of her set, however, was when Charlie Lowell, Steve Mason, and Aaron Sands of Jars of Clay walked "unexpectedly" on stage with some brass instruments to join her in song. Although Knapp pretended she didn't know what they were doing, this set-up surprise was definitely proven more a highlight of the evening as they started playing a cover of the Beatles' "All You Need is Love."
After a moderately long intermission (about 15 to 20 minutes), it was Jars of Clay's turn to do their thing. With the lights out and the crowd going wild, the 6 guys took their places while the lights remained off and the music began. Lead vocalist Dan Haseltine softly began to offer some lyrics to "River Constantine" slowly in spurts for a worshipful effect. It wasn't long before they jumped right into an old Jar classic, "Liquid." With bright lights bouncing everywhere and color to give almost a circus feel (hopefully that's supposed to go with the theme), it made me realize this wasn't the band anymore that no one heard of while opening up for PfR in 1995. The raw intimate setting has been pumped up with lights, crowd noise, and stardom. Of course that isn't exactly a negative thing or a fault of Jar's. No, it's just the road this mighty 4-some have followed. But the very fact that they're more confident in their live performances make them more enjoyable and the sound all that more... good! A disappointing and almost horrifying rendition of "Like a Child" followed. Completely 'updated' with a more pop/rock If I Left the Zoo feel, me and some colleagues couldn't accept the new rendition too well. However, as the song progressed, it began sounding like the version Jar fans were known for. Later hits and crowd-pleasers "Crazy Times" and "Unforgetful You" flowed next, with "Can't Erase It," "Grace," and "Famous Last Words" close behind. Dan then took out a stool and was spotlighted as he addressed the crowd about the next song. They told of their recent trip to China and the things they learned there, as well as the encouraging number of Christian conversions that take place there. With every heart touched by his talk, he and Stephen Mason led into a stripped-down, worshipful version of "Worlds Apart" before being accompanied by the rest of the band. After the acoustic interlude, they resumed the rock and roll with "Collide," and "I'm Alright," followed by "Fade to Grey." The band looks so comfortable on stage compared to how they used to be (timid and mellow). Now the Jars boys crack jokes, dance around, and just basically have fun. The group left the stage after "Fade to Grey," leaving the crowd shouting deafening screams for more. Jars didn't leave the crowd screaming too long, and reentered the stage for the inevitable encore. Appropriately, they played "Love Song For a Savior," a perfect send to open the end of a great set. And they closed with their new praise song "The Road" from the City On a Hill collaborative worship record. At the close of the song, the band humbly waved farewell and walked off the stage.
A great fall tour with 3 great artists. If you catch one fall tour this Fall 2000 season, definitely snag tickets to the Three O'Clock Parade Tour!-- John DiBiase
Jars of Clay
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