Night of Joy brings together the world of contemporary Christian Artists and the Magic Kingdom theme park at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. If one goes with a large group of friends or family, they definitely get their money's worth as rates can be reduced with groups. 17 different artists play as scheduled at the Magic Kingdom. Not all of the concerts are at the Cinderella Castle stage, though. Many of the bands and artists will be found at Tomorrow Land with the Galaxy Stage and the Rockettower Plaza Stage near the Astro-Orbitor and the People Mover (a ride that gives an overall view of the entire Tomorrow Land Area and exhibits). Just an interesting fact: all of the Disney World property occupies 27,258 acres, which is very extraordinary and comparative to the size of San Francisco, twice the size of Manhattan, or about 170 times the size of Disney Land.
Friday, September 5, 2014
One thing I will add--I highly recommend that one should be prepared for rain by making sure they bring a poncho, because you're not going to want to hold an umbrella all day at the Magic Kingdom as there is just too much to do at this event. Make sure that you dress as comfortable as possible because this is south Florida and there are concerns such as intense heat and humidity. Surprisingly, very little rain hindered the experience at the park this year. There was a very light mist of rain on the first day (Friday, but it wasn't much to worry about), and the skies were clear all of Saturday.
The first artist at the Rockettower Plaza Stage was contemporary / worship artist, Matt Maher. He played his most prominent song at this time, "All the People Said Amen." In addition to this song, he performed "Alive Again," "Turn Around," "On My Way" and "Hold Us Together." He also performed the worship song "Your Grace is Enough / Here I am." One of the last songs that Matt encouraged the audience to sing along with was "Lord I Need You," from his latest release. The first artist to open at the Galaxy stage was the pop rock band, Building 429. The songs were very well received by fans and lead singer Jason Roy was very energetic about having the crowd participate in their hit song, "We Won't Be Shaken." Next, the band played "Where I Belong," from their Listen to the Sound album. Jason asked the crowd to form a light demonstration with cell phones, which has all but replaced the far more uncomfortable cigarette lighter. Jason informed the crowd, "We are all about love." He mentioned that all of their wives came to this event along with them. Jason said, "Girls should be treated like queens and with respect." One of the last songs of their set was "Wrecking Ball." A listener would have walked away from this short concert with a sense of satisfaction that displayed by B429's honesty and its enthusiasm to have the audience feel welcomed while the band played selections from their catalog of songs over the last decade.
Next, Mandisa performed at the Galaxy Stage. Well-known for her history as an American Idol contestant and, more recently, with her song "Overcomer" that has become a staple on radio airwaves and has received many awards. She began with "Good Morning" as the crowds had lined up to the event. She followed up with "Stronger" and "Lose My Soul" (a song that she collaborated with Kirk Franklin and TobyMac from Portable Sounds) which was met with much praise from the fans. A surprise guest, Danny Gokey, another American Idol participant, fulfilled parts of the song that was originally done by TobyMac. Mandisa talked about how fun it was to be at Disney World and said, "can you imagine a place that is better than Disney World?" After this, Danny talked about his history and how he had to deal with the passing of his previous wife and high school sweetheart, Sophia, in 2004, prior to auditioning with American Idol, which she encouraged him to do. He sang his recent song, "Hope in Front of Me," on how to deal with life as it comes. Mandisa talked about how she had to deal with Simon Cowell's critical remarks and how they initially cut her deep, however, she said she has since forgiven him. She said the Simon could be a great person for God because of his talent and assertiveness, and she thought that people should continue to pray for him.
At the Cinderella Castle, Hillsong United began with "Go" from theis Aftermath album. Next, they played "Hosanna." The band provided all of the lyrics on a screen for the audience to sing along to. Another feature found in the majority of the musical acts is sign language for those deaf or with hearing difficulties. During their set, United frontman Joel Houston made the remark, "It doesn't amount to too much if He's not for Him. We come to live up that name. God has something for you." They then performed "From the Inside Out" and "To Be Like You." The Cinderella Castle was heavily populated as Hillsong United provided their signature sound, as neon lights reflecting from the water near the bridge area.
The last concert of the night was none other than the brother duo from Australia, for King & Country (Joel and Luke Smallbone). You could tell that the anticipation was there from the cheering on from fans. The light arrangements used during the show was impressive with beams going in all directions, and their large drum was set center stage as a sort of focal point, having their logo in the center. They opened with "Fix My Eyes," which had already taken off successfully as a pre-release song from their Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. album. The next song was the opening track to their Crave album, "Light it Up." Luke talked about having to deal with a disease last year and how it was an inspiration for their song, "It's Not Over Yet." They played a lot of the songs which would appear on their new album (which was releasing in about 10 days from this set). One of the touching moments was Luke talking about the song "Without You," which focuses on the relationship with his wife, Courtney, who also sings in the song (not at this concert though). The song illustrated how they want to continue to cherish every moment that God gives them. She was in the audience though and sang along to the song, as well as others. "Dreamers" is another song from the latest album that was played. As the song states, "It's unforgettable," and I'll always remember that song with how many of the band members were using the different drum sets. Towards the end of the concert, there was a twist to the arrangement as Joel came out into the audience along with other members, singing "Middle of Your Heart." The band seemed to make the fans feel important and wanted everyone to know about their mission to serve God. One can easily tell that these guys take this band very seriously and like to have a lot fun when presenting their material which seems to show many more possibilities for this band ahead.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
The weather was far better the next day. Although it appeared as though it was going to rain due to dark clouds and some thunder, it had a small drizzle for a few minutes and that was about it for the remainder of the day. The first act of the day was MercyMe at the Cinderella Castle, and they have been very frequent guests at Night of Joy over the past years. I was a little concerned for them on this evening since I was burning up just wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, while they were all performing in full suits. They played "New Peace of Mind" and talked with the audience about their newest album, Welcome to the New. The lead singer, Bart Millard, mentioned to the audience that God will always love us and that "there's nothing I can do to make Christ love me anymore than He does now." They followed up with a cover song, "Walking on Sunshine," which merged with their song, "Welcome to the New." They also played "Move" and "Word of God speak."
At the Galaxy Stage, Colton Dixon opened with "Our Time is Now" from his latest album, Anchor, and followed with "Don't Run Away." Colton mentioned that his favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom was Splash Mountain. He expressed that he had a "not-so-good experience" with another ride, though, when he younger, and that was "The Tower of Terror." He told the audience that the combination of this ride and having a serving of pancakes for breakfast did not go over well for him. He ended that experience by saying, "I left some of my DNA after getting off The Tower of Terror." Other songs played on the Galaxy Stage were "Open Your Eyes," "Never Gone," "Never Gonna Let You Go," "Through All of It," "You Are," "Limitless," "More of You" and "In and Out of Time."
1 Girl Nation was the first artist to play at the Rockettower Plaza Stage. They were very upbeat and receptive towards their fans, playing many of the songs off of their debut album, like "Vertical" and "Live For You." One could easily see that Lauryn Taylor Bach, Lindsey Ciresi, Carmen Justice, and Kayli Robinson cared about their fans by having an open invitation to meet all of them, signing shirts and CDs, and sharing conversations with everyone after the concert. I can really see this girl band taking off in the coming years.
Next to Skillet, labelmates We As Human were the only hard rock band to enter the Magic Kingdom this year. They provided an impressive setup at the Rockettower Plaza Stage. They began with one of their hit songs, "Bring To Life." Before playing another song that has given them much recognition, the lead singer, Justin Cordle, thanked their fans who had allowed this song, "Take the Bullets Away," to become a hit, and how they had collaborated with the former lead singer of Flyleaf, Lacey Sturm. The song echoed the lyrics, "Will you help me see the light of one more day?" They talked about how honored they were for those that have and were serving the country; with this message, We As Human entered into the song "I Stand" from their self-titled album.
The next artist to appear at the Cinderella Castle was the well-known contemporary pop band, Casting Crowns. As the band had their humble beginnings with a once-youth pastor and now-singer of Casting Crowns, Mark Hall, they performed to a very substantial gathering outside the entry of the castle with a radiance of purple and blue lights as they opened with "Who Am I." Mark began with a prayer, "You're the only name that can save us - You gave use Jesus before we changed." This was followed with the song "Voice of Truth." As they were making arrangements for the next performance, Mark had asked if anyone had heard Casting Crowns before and followed with a joke about how he thought that was OK since they had been around more than 10 years. More songs that were played included "Dream For You" and "Jesus, Friend of Sinners."
The last artist to appear at the Galaxy Stage was one of the most prominent female singers in today's contemporary Christian music, and even mainstream with hits like "Gold" and "Amazing Life," Britt Nicole. Britt talked about how she was expecting with her next baby and how she was looking forward to it as she did with her first child--her daughter, Ella. She opened with "Amazing Life" and wanted to encourage her audience to be happy and know that God loves them while not expecting anyone to be perfect. The dancing never slowed down with complete audience participation to the sounds of "Ready or Not," which originally featured the rap involvement of Lacrae. She also played "Lost Get Found," "Look Like Love," "All This Time," "Hanging On," "Break Through," "Stand" and "Gold." She seemed very comfortable with the audience and wanted to make sure all the fans were drawn into the songs that were mostly from Britt Nicole's last 2 releases "Gold" and "Lost Get Found," which makes sense as her debut album is vastly different in style than her recent projects.
The last act to play at the Rockettower Plaza Stage was southern rock performers Rhett Walker Band. The band was very unique and seemed like they wanted nothing more than to have an enjoyable time with the audience while making sure that none of listeners were left out in any way. "Can't Break Me" was one of their songs covered that talks about how there is always temptation to return to a past life, with lyrics like the following, "You can come against me but you won't get far / It's plain to see just who you are / You had me once but now I'm free / So go on hit the road 'cause you can't break me." They talked about their upcoming album Here's to the Ones to be released in October. With that, they played a sample of the album with "Broken Man." Next, they had asked if there were any CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) fans because they were going to cover a song from this classic band. They had a volunteer from the audience sing a rendition of "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" The volunteer surprisingly sang very well, along with the participation of the audience and the Rhett Walker Band.
The last concert of the night was Skillet, a band that seems to be consistent and provides some of the most memorable and impressive concerts at any event, just like this one at Night of Joy. The lights dimmed at the Cinderella Castle while the sounds of a violin and cello began with the duo of Jonathan Chu on Violin and Tate Olson taking the stage to the intro of "Whispers in the Dark" from Comatose. Soon, the entire band took the stage with white beams going everywhere, intersecting like a spider web. After this song, frontman John Cooper came to the center stage and told the audience "Jesus came to set you free." He talked about things that people are tired of or sick of, which led to their song "Sick of It." Then the next song was "Hero," and the flames were quite impressive in this segment of the show, along with the next song, "Not Gonna Die." "Awake and Alive" was the next song to have the spotlight with a great mixture of Jen Ledger's vocals. John asked the audience if they liked playing video games and said, "I'm a nerd too. I used to play games all night with my friends growing up. We would play Castlevania on the NES all night." He then went on to say that this next song, "Those Nights," related to that experience. "Rise" was the next song from the album of the same title, where purple and teal beams of light dominated the stage area. After this portion of the concert, John Cooper talked about someone who really offers hope and his name is "Jesus." He continued to say, "no matter who you are, Jesus loves you just the way you are. Jesus is worth selling yourself for - Jesus is so much better than being cool." "The Last Night" was performed with John's wife, Korey providing additional vocals with John. "Comatose" was then played with an active audience that never seemed to fade away in participation. I only wish they could play songs from the Collide album; although this album was heavier and lot more guitar driven, it could still easily blend well with their last 3 albums.
Night of Joy 2014 is a testament to just how effective this event can be with entertainment, value, and fun for all. All the artists made it known that they were there to let the audience know they were there for Jesus. It's nice to know that a big company like Disney can allow something like this to take place for all to see, and at a reasonable price, in the comfort of being at the Magic Kingdom theme park -- which allows for the many great rides that can be enjoyed as well, such as Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, the Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion.-- Wayne Myatt, 10/6/14
Mandisa w/ Danny Gokey
for King & Country
1 Girl Nation
We As Human
Rhett Walker Band
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