Led by the hard rock of Skillet, the power of Third Day and the Alarm-ing passion of newcomers the Neverclaim, the praise-filled event proved praiseworthy indeed.
|Korey and John Cooper of Skillet perform during the Rock and Worship Roadshow at Honda Center.|
There was truly a little bit of everything for Christian music enthusiasts who came out Friday night (Jan. 17, 2014) for the Rock and Worship Roadshow at Honda Center.
From the hard-hitting metal of Skillet (above) and melodic Southern rock of Third Day, the event’s top-billed stars, to newer sounds like the catchy, Michael Jackson-esque dance-pop of Royal Tailor and U2-mining anthems of the Neverclaim, the eclectic mix of short sets changed swiftly at an event where believers were encouraged to help sponsor children via Compassion International. (That cause was introduced by comedian Tom Wolf, who tempered his humor with heartfelt appeal.
The crowd was treated to nine different performances, most running a mere 15 minutes, with several young up-and-comers rightly impressing a capacity crowd, the majority of which paid $20 and under to attend.
Royal Tailor proved to be one of the most pleasing acts, with young singer Tauren Wells’ soaring tenor and cool moves showcased on the up-tempo “Making Me New” as well as the beautiful R&B ballad “Remain.” He also tapped into more current urban dynamics with the powerful rock-rap showcase “Got That Fire,” the leadoff track from the group's excellent self-titled sophomore album.
Other early standouts came courtesy of the Neverclaim, a six-man Portland (Ore.) troupe whose music and stage presence recalled the fire of U2 and the Alarm in the early ’80s.
They opened with mid-tempo Americana-tinged rocker “The Soul Longs,” which played like the Alarm’s Mike Peters fronting Mumford & Sons, with banjo adding a nice touch to the traditional feel. Then came “One Truth One Life,” a more straightforward praise song, but the band’s firepower, especially singer Jeremiah Carlson, remained impressive, ending with the uplifting and instantly memorable “Revival.”
Not every young artist on the bill was able to attain the same heights, however. The heavy rock of We as Human had 13 minutes to make it count – and they didn't – while New York hip-hop artist Andy Mineo failed to fuse enough hooks into his selections to awe. Bogata-based band Soulfire Revolution was a bit stronger, stirring with its new original “We Sing.”
Third Day delivered the strongest performance of the night, the Atlanta troupe's crowd-pleasing 35-minute turn enhanced by an audience eager to sing and clap along with its infectious rock offerings. “Kicking and Screaming,” one of several songs from the quartet’s latest album, Miracle, was especially energetic, outdistancing the studio version and placing singer Mac Powell’s powerful baritone fully on display. The textured “God of Wonders,” on the other hand, shined via a magical solo from guitarist Mark Lee.
Singer-songwriter Jamie Grace, a 22-year-old out of the same city discovered via her YouTube channel, delighted with her upbeat reggae-leaning tune "Hold Me." While her far-reaching, Nelly Furtado-like vocals and appealing personality proved entertaining over 15 minutes, she likely needs to bring a more focused approach to get to the next level.
The night-ending set from Skillet boasted a blend of metal and hard rock that was a bit too loud and forceful for a number of older fans, who headed for the exits. The Memphis-spawned band delivered powerfully, though, focusing on its latest albums, 2009’s Wake and last year’s Rise.
Thundering versions of “Hero” and “Sick of It” launched the set before several additional musicians on electronic violin and cello added a symphonic lift to “Not Gonna Die,” further strengthened by the harmony of lead singer John Cooper with drummer Jen Ledger's pretty soprano on the choruses. Later in the set, the ballad “American Noise” offered an introspective look at how the band's faith sits with modern-day life, before the band roared back to full strength for the forceful “Monster.”
Photo: Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer