It was recently announced that one of the more unique bands in the worship genre were calling it quits... in a way. With a slight shift in sound and focus, The Rock N Roll Worship Circus knew it was a new season in their lives, thus signaling the end of the Worship Circus's run. However, the band has decided to go through a name change rather than ending the reign of RRWC. So from this comes the birth of The Listening.
Those familiar with me know The Rock N Roll Worship Circus holds a special little space in my heart, but I support the guys in their decision to move on to The Listening. A friend and I took a trip out to the Gilbertsville, PA area for one of the last Rock N Roll Worship Circus shows, and one of the first from The Listening. We had the pleasure of interviewing lead vocalist and guitarist Gabriel Wilson beforehand, discussing the name change and their brand new record The Rock N Roll Worship Circus Becomes The Listening, which releases on their site (WorshipCircus.com) on November 15th and in stores January 17th. I enjoyed picking Gabe's brain a bit on the changes and progressions to The Listening.
A brief announcement from the promoter served as a prelude to The Listening show. The audience remained seated until the band walked out on stage. At that point, much of the younger crowd, and my enthusiastic photo-taking self, rushed to the front of the church's sanctuary to get closer to the stage. With the lights out and the stage bathed in red lighting, with the occasional blue light illuminating the band, The Listening opened with the first song from their new album, "Glory Of The Feared." From the first few spins of the band's new CD, one will notice a darker, slower, and more melodic approach to the band's songwriting (There isn't even a hint of the more bouncy Worship Circus songs like "Blood Of Jesus"). These new songs, while they may take a couple listens for longtime fans to adjust to, translate incredibly live. There's a vibe and a mood that comes out while performed live that just have a more contemplative effect. And since the audience probably hasn't even heard most of these songs before (save one or two played live before), all they can really do is, well, listen.
"Isaiah," a track that will be featured on a 3-song bonus disc accompanying the new Listening record was next, with the always impactful and gripping "The Undiscovered" following. The band seldom stopped playing long enough for Gabe to address the crowd, but it never seemed rude. When he did finally talk to the crowd several songs into the set, it was to thank them for their support and to talk about the new sound and the name change. The lack of talking between the songs added to the atmosphere created by just hearing a continued flow of the band's songs. The worshipful "I Love The Rain" was effectively tossed into the mix of new tunes, with "Be In Your Eyes" and the powerful "Hosea In C Minor" continuing the string of moving songs. The dark and eerie "The Factory," a metaphorical story about spreading the gospel was an interesting way to follow up the more worshipfully written songs, transitioning then into the instrumental ambience of "Are We Listening?" and the inevitable "Untitled."
After the more upbeat "The Way Love Is Made," The Listening visited old school Worship Circus fare to play the fast-paced "Ride," closing with the incredible "Triple Fascination." An encore was to come, as all present hoped, resuming their set with "All I Can Do" from The Rock N Roll Worship Circus's A Beautiful Glow album. The prayerful "Open The Gates," which has normally preceded "The Undiscovered," was effectively followed by "We Sing Glory." Each Worship Circus song remained true to its original composition, but felt at home among The Listening's other work. Bathed in a blue glow, the band finished with one of my new favorites from The Listening, "Everything Is Nothing."
After seeing The Worship Circus performing under The Listening moniker, I realized it was a natural progression for the band and a handsome fit. Their songs have never sounded so good live, and the atmosphere was spirtually intoxicating. While past shows were bubbly with the joy of the Lord (which I have to admit, I missed slightly), there's a holy reverence and a sort of basking in His presence that is felt at The Listening's show. If you weren't necessarily a fan of what The Worship Circus had to offer, there's a good chance you'll be more receptive to The Listening. Please don't miss these guys live.-- John DiBiase, 10/22/05
The Listening Set List
01. Glory Of The Feared
03. The Undiscovered
04. I Love The Rain
05. Be In Your Eyes
06. Prelude In C Minor
07. Hosea In C Minor
08. The Factory
09. Are We Listening?
11. The Way That Love Is Made
13. Triple Fascination
14. All I Can Do
15. Open The Gates
16. We Sing Glory
17. Everything Is Nothing
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