Submit Your Song in the International Songwriting Competition to Win Cash and Other Prizes!
Submit Your Song in the International Songwriting Competition to Win Cash and Other Prizes!

JFH Concert Review

Bethel Music Worship Nights with Martin Smith


Bethel Music Worship Nights with Martin Smith
4/13/14, at Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA

Bethel Music Worship Nights closed its east coast run in Atlanta on Palm Sunday. General admission seating meant fans were lined up hours in advance in a serpentine trail through the corridors of the World Congress Center, a long, long way from the doors. Bethel has steadily grown in impact over the past few years, and a recent rapid-fire release schedule (Tides, 9/2013; Discover Bethel Music 12/2013; Tides Live 2/2014; You Make Me Brave 4/2014) has built an audience eager for a chance to capture the energy of their live worship experience. In retrospect, pairing with Martin Smith (whose foundational work with Delirious? had an impact on modern worship music that remains criminally underappreciated) was a natural fit, and Smith proved as lively and passionate as ever.

Doors opened and patient fans streamed in, gobbling up seats, before one brave pair stood front and center in the ample space between the front row and the stage. That's all it took for hundreds more to quickly fill the floor, and their energy never waned. Smith was backed by a 6-piece band and opened with a set culled mostly from his most recent solo releases, God's Great Dance Floor, Step 01 and Step 02. "Fire Never Sleeps" was a strong opener, greeted by a roaring crowd. Smith, all smiles, strapped on an acoustic guitar for the rest of his 7-song set, which was highlighted by two songs: "Emmanuel" and "Back to the Start." The former had the crowd shouting a name for Jesus more often associated with Christmas, but one that found particular relevance at the start of Passion Week. The latter is a quieter prelude to the raucous "God's Great Dance Floor," telling the story of the prodigal son and giving new meaning to the more familiar song. It would still be quite a letdown to offer the appetizer and not the main course, so the song fed nicely into "Dance Floor," and the stage suddenly filled with Smith's and the Johnsons' children, dancing and jumping in a big ole' Jesus party. One pair even had a neatly choreographed dance step that made me suddenly feel like I was in the Newsboys' "Love Liberty Disco" music video. The enthusiasm was infectious, and the floor beneath the feet of the jubilant crowd bounced like a trampoline.

Bethel pastor Eric Johnson, though not a regular part of the tour, was on hand to offer a word of encouragement between sets, calling believers to step out in their faith and recognize that light shines brightest in the darkness. Bethel Music followed, fronted by Brian and Jenn Johnson and Amanda Cook. They opened with a pair of contemplative, mid-tempo songs, "For the Sake of the World" and another Easter-themed song, "For the Cross." Cook followed with her title track from Bethel's newest, "You Make Me Brave." The song's image of a tidal wave as a welcome thing, albeit a bit scary, if it's a wave of God's presence drawing us closer to Him, resonated with the crowd, and the evening turned a bit. Response became more personal and profound, overflowing into the next song, the Bethel/Kari Jobe standout "Forever," which became the high point of the night. Just as Lent builds anticipation for Easter, the previous songs, words, and prayers had led to this moment of recognition of the cross, the Savior, and His victory.

Smith returned and joined Bethel for another celebratory dance party, punctuated with a Delirious? classic, "Rain Down." The crowd begged for an encore, and after a brief huddle, Martin borrowed Brian's guitar for a lovely performance of "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever" and a quick homage to a "young, up-and-coming songwriter from Atlanta that you might hear more about one day," Chris Tomlin's "How Great is Our God." Bethel has more Worship Nights planned for late May in Pennsylvania and the upper Midwest. Dates and details are available at

-- Mark D. Geil, 4/14/14


Bethel Music Worship Nights with Martin Smith Photo Gallery
click on an image for a bigger size
**vertical images cropped for thumbnails**

*all photos by Mark D. Geil and are the property of the photographer and


Leave A Comment! (Don't forget to be nice)


go to main Album review page


Listen to the new album from Breakaway Worship!

Search JFH

This Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Skillet Surviving The Game - Single [Atlantic]

This Friday, September 17, 2021
Bethel Music I Believe (Live) - Single [Bethel Music]
Celtic Worship Because He Lives - Single [Integrity]
Jon Foreman Jesus, I Have My Doubts (Live) - Single (independent)
ICF Worship Unser Vater - EP [Integrity]
The Lore Family The World Needs A Song - Single [Horizon]
Lucinda Moore Lord, I Hear You - Single [Sony/The Orchard]
MŌRIAH Known, Seen, Loved - Single [Cathedral]
Planetshakers Revival (Live) [Venture3 Media]
Planetshakers Revival (Live) Deluxe Edition [Venture3 Media]
Oba Reengy Don't Leave (Remix) (feat. Royce Lovett) - Single [DREAM]
RNW Music Hope (Live) [BEC]
Silent Planet Terminal - Single [Solid State]
TobyMac Promised Land - Single [Capitol CMG]
Various Artists Rock, Paper, Scissors, Metal, Vol. 2 [JFH Music]
Vineyard Worship LoFi Vineyard 2: Chill Worship Beats to Focus and Relax - EP [Integrity]
We Are Messengers Friend Of Sinners - Single [Curb/Word]

Next Friday, September 24, 2021
Bethel Music Homecoming (Live) [Bethel]
Citizens The Joy Of Being Together [Integrity]
for KING & COUNTRY For God Is With Us - Single [Curb/Word]
Jonathan McReynolds & Mali Music Jonny x Mali: Live in LA (Stereo) - EP [Life Room Label]
Leigh Nash The Tide, Vol. 1 - EP [Visionary]
Brian Reith Now Is Not Forever "Reimagined" (independent)
Switch Better View, Part I - EP [Essential Worship]
Thrive Worship Let's Have Church EP [Integrity]
Chris Tomlin Emmanuel: Christmas Songs Of Worship [Capitol CMG]

For all release dates, click here!

Listen to the new single by Katie Lighty!

Listen to the new album from KAINA!