Monday, June 23, 2014

Fishfest offers a spirited blend of talent

My review was originally posted on The Orange County Register Web site on Sunday, June 24 and appears in today's print edition of the newspaper. I have also included some photos I took at the June 21, 2014 concert.
Mike Donehey led Tenth Avenue North through a memorable set of inspired rock at Fishfest

Christian music lovers were treated to a full afternoon and evening of spirited performances Saturday, June 21 at Fishfest at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. The annual event, sponsored by radio station the Fish (95.9 FM), offered a characteristic mix of established and up-and-coming artists, while a large entry area featured representatives from charitable organizations, games and activities, merchandise and food booths.
Bart Millard of MercyMe
Headliner MercyMe’s 70-minute set included not only the band’s well-known hits, but a number of songs off the new release Welcome to the New. All were delivered powerfully, with lead singer Bart Millard offering extended spoken introductions to select songs to provide additional details on their creation.
The Muse-style rocker “A New Lease on Life,” the Motown mining “Wishful Thinking” and the New Wave-minded “Welcome to the New” (which segued into Katrina & the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine”) were among the standouts of new songs played early in the set.
The group’s biggest hit, “I Can Only Imagine,” started as a lovely piano ballad before the song gradually built momentum and power on the way to a powerful finish. Another new song, “Greater,” boasted a modern country feel while “Move” allowed band members to celebrate their faith with an infectious dance groove.
MercyMe closed its fast-moving set with “Shake,” a wonderful song that started with a capella gospel vocals before it quickly sped into an infectious groove that had the capacity crowd moving.
Jeremy Camp’s musical style was not nearly as wide-ranging as that of MercyMe, but the popular singer-songwriter performed his praise-style pop-rock with a sincerity that connected with the audience.
“Shine” and “My God,” the two songs that launched his set, were powerful and uplifting. He aptly closed out his hourlong outing with the stirring “Overcome,” a richly layered song that boasted symphonic power during which he used his powerful baritone to proclaim his faith.
Artists performing earlier in the day, notably Tenth Avenue North, met with similar success. Although the five-member band hails from Florida, its sound and approach comes across a combination of early U2 and Switchfoot. Singer-guitarist Mike Donehey has an infectious personality and ran into the crowd several times, elevating the power of the outfit’s set.
The band’s hour-long show featured crowd favorites like “Strong Enough to Save” and the modern rocker “Love Is Here.” A new song, “No Man Is an Island,” was another standout, with Donehey delivering an almost-spoken intro before its real power emerged, complete with big choruses.
Plumb at Fishfest
Even more sonically adventurous was Plumb (the moniker for singer Tiffany Arbuckle), who made the most of her 30-minute slot with gems like the melodic heavy rockers “Cage” and “Stranded,” as well as the decidedly different electronica song “I Don’t Deserve You,” the latter especially impressive as she pushed her soprano to its upper reaches. She closed with “Need You Now (How Many Times),” in which she sang tenderly in the more quiet verses while again allowing her voice to soar in the electronica-tinged choruses.
Of the other acts I caught, Dara Maclean impressed most with her shining vocals and infectious material, including the poignant rocker “Wanted.” Singer-pianist Jonathan Thulin mined Gavin DeGraw territory on his piano-anchored “Architecture” and on the forceful “Dead Come to Life.”
Dara Maclean impressed during an early afternoon
set at Fishfest 2014

1 comment:

newwavegeo said...

While I'm not a big Christian pop/rock listener, I do recall MercyMe giving a solid performance when I reviewed FishFest in Irvine a few years ago.