Saturday, May 13, 2006

Oh, What a Night!

Maria and me with Avalon members Greg Long, Janna Long, Melissa Greene, & Jody McBrayer

A little over an hour ago we arrived home from Evansville, Indiana, where we attended a concert featuring Avalon along with Michael English and Brittany Waddell. Although it was a highly energetic and entertaining three hours, to refer to this event as a concert does not really do it justice. It was much more than a concert; it was an incredible time of worship as well!

Before the show Maria and I, along with a few others, were privileged to spend about 20 minutes with Avalon. They were exceptionally warm and gracious. They talked with us like we were old friends. I think they asked more questions about us than we did them! There was no hint of pretentiousness about them. They were just real, down to earth people.

The show began with a few songs from Brittany Waddell. She is a young lady who is just starting out in Christian music. I was amazed by her talent both as a singer and a songwriter, but mostly by her desire to glorify God through her music. In an era where much Christian music is not explicitly focused on Jesus or even God, her songs were very Christ-centered. One of the main themes of her songs was the healing that we find only through Christ, a healing that is sufficient to cover any painful situation we find ourselves in.

Michael English took the stage next. His peformance was powerful, not only because of his music but also because of his incredible testimony of God's forgiveness and restoration. He pointed to himself as an example of what happens when we feel like we can handle life on our own, or when we put on only part of the armor of God. But he also reminded us that we can never go so far astray that God cannot find us and bring us back home.

Before Avalon sang, group member Jody McBrayer shared about the work of World Vision. We watched a video about the horiffic AIDS crisis that is ravaging Africa. There is no way we can really comprehend how desperate the situation is over there. Every 14 seconds, a child is orphaned because of AIDS. There are villages where nearly all of the adult population, and many of the children as well, are stricken with the deadly disease.

Following a brief intermission, Avalon took the stage. From the moment they walked on stage the atmosphere was amazing. To be honest, I have never seen any performers enjoy their time on stage as much as they did. On each song they put forth their full heartfelt effort. Their playful banter between songs reveals that they are good friends as well as singing partners. And when they share about who Jesus is and what He means to them and what He has done for them, it becomes obvious why their music is so passionate.

Avalon had a good mix of their new material with old favorites. Unfortunately, there was no way they could do all their great songs because there are so many. They started off at full throttle with "Take You at Your Word" and "New Day." Then they slowed things down with "Everything to Me," "Adonai," and "Can't Live a Day." They followed this with three songs from their new CD Stand: "The Other Side," "Love Won't Leave You," and their current single, "Orphans of God." Jody took a few minutes to challenge us to take any area of our lives where we struggle, where we have hurts and fears, and turn them over to God, remembering that no matter what we go through He is with us; from this he led into "You Were There." The group closed the show with "Testify to Love."

As Avalon fans, we thought the show was superb from a performance perspective. Each group member has an excellent solo voice, yet when one of the other members sings the lead they put their all into singing background vocals, even the oohs and ahs. Throughout the show they kept looking down and smiling at us in the front row, especially Greg and Janna (who spent more time on the side of the stage in front of us). After the show Greg told us that it really meant a lot to them when they looked down and saw us singing right along with them. (Apparently they didn't hear me; otherwise they might not have been so appreciative.) We're really looking forward to being able to see them again.


Hashman said...

I'm really happy for you.

You're an Avalon freak!

Tim Sweatman said...


Congrats on the new name!

I'm not that much of an Avalon freak. This is the first full concert of theirs Maria and I have been to (they were at a Katrina benefit we went to in Nashville last September with a few others artists), and it was less than 2 hours away. I don't have their names or pictures tattooed anywhere on my person (I have this acute allergy to pain). And I don't even have all their CD's (I'm one short, plus their Christmas CD). But they are definitely my favorite Christian singers.

The weird thing is that I didn't really start listening to them until about a year and a half ago, when they were already past their peak of radio popularity. Of course, given the size of the crowd Friday night, it's obvious that they are far more popular than radio thinks. The church where they were has an auditorium larger than Hillvue, and it was almost completely full.

I'm sure that's a lot more than you really wanted to know.

Royce Sweatman said...

Stop by your Blog and wanted to say Hi. My name is Royce Sweatman I'm a associational missonary from Arkansas. A friend of Ronnie Floyd and a SBC also. I have a place where you can go and see some of my Mission trips. Stop by and visit it.

Kevin Bussey said...

Sounds like you had fun. When are you joining them as a roadie?

GuyMuse said...

Envious of you guys! I too am a big Avalon fan and think they're one of the best Christian groups out there. If they ever make it to Ecuador, I'll be on the front row too, smiling and singing along!

martyduren said...

Did they let you lead in silent prayer?