Tis the season…for concerts on the East Coast! Last weekend I was in Alabama for Pat Barker’s “One Night Only” concert and this weekend I found myself in South Carolina for Abraham Productions’ “Girls and Guitars Tour.” However…there just happened to be a concert the night before in Maiden, North Carolina with Tribute Quartet. What a coincidence that Maiden just happened to be on the way!
We pulled into Living Word Church ten minutes before the concert began and found some seats in the sanctuary. When the pastor came on stage, he welcomed everyone to the church and asked where folks drove in from. For a Thursday night, I was surprised how many people came in from surrounding areas. The pastor requested us to silence our cell phones and I couldn’t help but chuckle as he told a story about a funeral he preached at in Oklahoma. After telling the people at the service to silence their phones, he neglected to do so to his…and you guessed it, in the middle of the service his phone started ringing!
After a short prayer, the pastor welcomed Tribute Quartet to the stage. Riley, Gary, Josh and Anthony kicked off their concert with “I’ve Been To Jesus”, “Move That Mountain” and “More Than Able.” After that trio of upbeat tunes, Gary greeted the crowd and said, “Wave once if you love Jesus tonight!” Then, “Now, turn to your neighbor and say, ‘I’m glad you got to see me tonight’.” From there they went into “Jesus Saves” and “Let’s Go To That Land.” The later started with a good bass line and when they began, Josh, ever the energetic one, jumped on the last beat of the intro as Anthony started his line. I get the impression that Josh has done that a few times because Anthony did not seem surprised by the antic! LOL! Once the last note was sung, the intro to the next song immediately kicked off and Josh pretended like he didn’t want to perform it. The tune was “Power In The Blood.” As Josh sat down at the keyboard for his solo, he looked at the crowd and said, “You clap at the end of this song!” After a short pause he added, “And that ain’t a joke either.” Though everyone laughed then, we made sure to give a hearty applause at the end of the piano solo. Next, was an upbeat song that featured Anthony called, “That’s How I Know.” This was one of those songs where the bass singer steps out front and the other guys huddle around one mic off to the side. As Gary adjusted the mic to his height, both Riley and Josh gave each other “the look.” It became apparent why when they had to bend down to get low enough to sing into the mic. Well, that only lasted the first verse and chorus! When the second verse came around, Riley brought the mic up to his height. This time, it was Gary’s turn to give “the look” to the other guys. The whole skit was humorous, but the crowd really laughed when Riley and Josh, one on each side, lifted Gary up to reach the mic on the chorus!
The next song was Tribute’s most recent #1, “God Of The Storms.” After the ballad, Riley spoke of what the message meant and then went into a chorus of the old hymn, “I Anchor My Soul.” With just the piano backing him up, Riley asked the crowd to sing along. After talking about their new CD and how it is a tribute to the history of Gospel Music, they sang Riley’s favorite song from the project, “Hide Thou Me.” Their last song before the offering was “Good News From Jerusalem.” This song just lifts the roof every time they sing it! With a standing ovation, they couldn’t help but encore it!
“Whatever your circumstance is, you can rest assured that God is standing there next to you.” – Riley Harrison Clark
We had a brief pause in the program as the pastor came to take up the offering. While the velvet offerings bags were passed, Josh came out and said, “How ‘bout I play one?” Of course, folks were too busy retrieving items from their purses and wallets to answer, so Josh hollered, “Oh well, I’m playing one anyway!” Then he played “Everyday With Jesus” as the audience caught on and rewarded his joke with a chuckle.
After the offering, Tribute came back on stage with “Heaven Awaits.” Gary introduced the next one like this, “Here’s another old one.” And it was! In fact, it was one I have not heard in ages – “Over The Moon!” As the evening began to wind down, the guys started to share more between each song. Before the next one, Gary explained that the upcoming song was the very first Gospel song he learned over 30 years ago. It was, “Meeting In The Air.” The following song was a request, and though it’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, I could listen to this Christmas song any day! (It certainly was cold enough outside to be Christmas!) Anyway, the ballad was “Mary Did You Know.” With just Riley’s voice and the piano to accompany him, this song sent chills down my back. The sincerity with which he sings the lyric never grows old, and you can feel it. And it must have been felt on stage too, because you could hear Gary tell Anthony to change the next song to, “Hold On.” This one was encored and Gary walked off the stage and into the audience. He shared a few encouraging words before returning to the stage. The atmosphere in the room was still very tender and contemplative as they went into “Homecoming Day.” The lyric was perfect for the setting, for it brought everyone to their feet. A chorus of “What A Day That Will Be” followed, and then Riley presented the salvation message and prayed. To close out the concert, the guys ended with a reprise of “Let’s Go To That Land.”
Conclusion: For me, this year has been characterized by Gospel Sings – three day weekends and week-long conventions. I love settings such as sings, but there’s one downside – your favorite artist will only get 30 minutes on stage. To see an artist like Tribute in full concert once again, was quite a treat! My favorite part of the evening was hearing their “new” songs live. They staged quite a few from their newly released album, Tribute Quartet’s Quartet Tribute, and I loved it. Another highlight was “Mary Did You Know.” What a great example of the power a song can have with just a voice and piano! The stop in Maiden, North Carolina was well worth it and I plan to add many more “single night” concerts to this year’s schedule before the year is out!