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JFH Concert Review

Photos by John

Newsboys, ZOEgirl, Superchic[k], By the Tree
10/11/02, at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA

The Newsboys have become quite well-known over the past decade for their exciting live shows and occasional gimmicks to make their performance as memorable and fun as possible. Whether it was Peter Furler's rotating drumset or former lead vocalist John James' golden suit, The Newsboys wanted to make sure the fans got a show and not just a concert. So, in the Fall of 2002, the Aussies head out on the road once again, accompanied by none other than three other artists.

You might not expect to find groups like Superchic[k] or ZOEgirl on the same tour as a group like the Newsboys, but this time around, you will. In 2000, for the Newsboys' airdome tour, the pop-hardcore sounds of the late Beanbag were heard opening up for them along with Sonicflood. Beanbag was an unlikely group for the tour (and scared and shocked many a fan) but it wasn't too much of a surprise considering they were the first signee to Newsboy frontman Peter Furler's new label Inpop Records. Such is the case with finding the likes of the pop/punk garage sounds of Superchic[k] on the Fall Thrive Tour. The tour boasts versatility and diversity as it kicked the evening off with By The Tree's catchy pop sensibilities with tracks like "Satellite" and "Salvation Song" from their new album These Days. Tree had little trouble getting the crowd's attention as their fun and friendly performance made for a good opening for the evening.

The fun frenzy that is Superchic[k] followed with lead vocalist Tricia Brock backed by a band of guys dressed in warm-up suits. The sight may appear odd or even stupid to a normal viewer, but for anyone who's familiar with the fun-loving group, it's understandable. Superchic[k] opened with "High School," a fun and catchy tune about leaving the immaturity and politics of high school in those years of our lives and moving on. The band was sadly without Tricia's guitarist sister Melissa for just this tour but had the pleasure of featuring founding members and Church of Rhythm alumni, Dave Ghazarian and Max Hsu (who don't normally tour with the band). They followed up with their hit "Barlow Girls" and their new single "So Bright." For the humorous "Na Na," Dave offered an impressive guitar solo while, after the song, a band member offered a weak and sorely misplaced hardcore rap. The highlight for the show came at the close of the set with Tricia stretching her amazing vocals for a beautiful rendition of "I Love You, Lord."

After a brief set change, a back drop sporting the outline of ZOE women Alisa, Chrissy, and Kristin began to glow before falling away to reveal another ZOEgirl backdrop. At that, the trio, accompanied by a set of dancers, opened their power pop charged set with "Save Myself," "Even If," and "With All of My Heart." Following the bold message of "Dismissed," a response to abusive and ungodly romantic relationships, Kristin spoke on self-esteem and standing up against what pop culture says is beautiful or acceptable. Kristin then began singing "Plain" solo as she played the keyboard before later being joined by Alisa and Chrissy. ZOE closed their set with "Here and Now" and a remix of their hit "I Believe." Although not my style, ZOEgirl does a great job doing what they do and offer up a great example for young Christian women to follow.

Following a brief intermission, the long-awaited evening performance from the Newsboys began as a denim-clad Peter Furler and crew opened with "Giving It Over." The group wasted no time getting the party started as they continued on with the crowd-pleasers "Who?", "Love Liberty Disco," and "Cornelius." The performance really took on a new feel when the backdrop fell away to reveal a massive sceen which began playing a music video for "Million Pieces" as the band began playing the song. Bassist-turned side-project solo artist Phil Joel briefly sang a portion of his hit single "God Is Watching Over You" as an intro to the wonderful "Entertaining Angels." The audience's attention soon shifted from the band to the intriguing images that began showing on the screen as they began to resemble that of surveillance footage to coincide with the song. The band offered another lead-in with Keith Green's "Lord, You're Beautiful" before beginning "Joy." One of the show's highlights followed, when the band broke into the funky and infectious rocker "John Woo" and a highly humorous video shown on the screen behind them. It was no surprise that artist/producer Steve Taylor had put together these pieces, as the audience began watching a dog puppet appear on the screen and begin dancing until a cat joined it and the two "boogied down" along with the song. Guitarist Jody Davis briefly sang what sounded like a hymn of sorts before the group broke into "Lord (I Don't Know)" which also featured video accompaniment. Following a few choruses of "We Want to Glorify," Peter briefly spoke about the times in the country and offered some words of encouragement to the crowd. He encouraged the audience to be bold for Christ and to lead the lost to Him. With that, they performed their smash hit "Shine" to which the video screen featured live feed of the band playing the song in real time. The group left the stage, typically, leaving the crowd screaming for the band's obvious return. Unexpectedly, the quintet didn't come back right away. Instead, the screen soon lit up with excerpts from the infamous FlowBee haircutting scam of years ago. The humorous clips only reminded me of Saturday morning cartoons and how ridiculous the concept seemed even then and how more outrageous it is now. At the close of the lengthy clip, the Newsboys returned back to the stage with "Fad of the Land," a song that mocks the trends and gimmicks our society tries to get us to buy into. During the song, an amusing montage of infomercials played behind the group before Furler got the crowd riled back up again with their hit "Breakfast." The evening ended on a vertical note with their current runaway hit, the worshipful "It Is You." The presence of God was undeniable as the crowd unanimously lifted hands heavenward in praise to their Creator. As the music faded out, the Newsboys exited for the night leaving the audience to repeat the chorus until the lights flickered back on.

The Newsboys Fall Thrive Tour features a unique blend of musical styles from sugar pop to pop/rock and surfer punk. Take your children or youth group to see ZOEgirl and Superchic[k] and most importantly stick around to enjoy the mature and enjoyable sounds of the Newsboys.

-- John


Thrive Tour 2002 Photo Gallery
click on an image for a bigger size

By The Tree




*all photos by John, and are the property of


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