Fort Wayne, Indiana Concert Review

Angie Knight

I had to write of last night's concert, although I know I can't write a description that will do it justice. Of the fourteen or so Rich concerts I've attended in the past twelve years, I must say that this was musically the most mature, with more musical (and just as much if not more emotional) depth than any of his others. The closest I'd compare it to as far as the overall feeling would be his tour with Avenue G several years ago.

What made this one different? First of all, the talent of the band (both This Train and the Ragamuffin members that were with him). "Calling Out Your Name" had a whole new depth with Eric's heartfelt cello in addition to the dulcimer, and there was some wonderful, seemingly impossible and intricate percussion with "78 Eatonwood Green" that actually made the instrumental a crowd favorite. Then there was the instrumental "Nothing but the Blood" that started with two hammer dulcimers (Rich AND two band members played them throughout the concert!), and little by little evolved from completely acoustic to completely electric... it was chilling. We were then in awe as the Bach-esque introduction to "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" was played entirely on xylophone by Rich and his percussionist, with Rich running to the keyboard just in time to play background to his vocals.

Also, this is the first concert I've ever attended during which Rich did NOT forget any of the lyrics to his songs (though we never mind... it makes him human). His humanity was retained, however, when he had a case of the hiccups during the a capella "I Will Sing," and Mark [Robertson] (from Ragamuffin and This Train) grinned, reached over, and gave him a whack in the middle of the chest. As per usual, Rich had so much wisdom to share... I wish I'd written more down, but I did take a few notes. One quote that I'll share was what he said between "While the Nations Rage" and "If I Stand": "That was a song that I wrote for the village. This song I wrote for the sky." "If I Stand" has always been one of my favorites (though there are so many), and this made it all the more meaningful... ahh, to write a song for the sky.

I also must comment about Mitch - this is his fourth concert appearance I've seen, and he has matured as a musical performer so much that he almost seemed like a new person. His rapport with the crowd was fabulous, and I loved hearing his songs with background - they gained a whole new depth. The "Lemonade Song" (as I've dubbed it) had some really funky percussion that added to its whimsical/"profound" feel. Everyone will be glad to know that Mitch said he's entering a recording studio in a week and a half to record an album for the first time. HOORAY!!

I know many people will be jealous... last night was the first night that Canticle was available for sale! I'm listening to it right now, reveling in its beauty. Mitch sang two of its songs last night, in addition to six of his own.

I really ought to mention This Train as well - they were a pleasant, whimsical surprise, as I was completely unfamiliar with them. My husband, who loves punk, bought both cd's and is already hooked. I must say that I've never seen a string bass played quite like Mark did!

One last note - I had a quick chance to chat with Rich before he went on stage, and he said he's feeling better than he was. If he did feel poorly, he most certainly hid it well (as performers are known to do).

A final highlight was that Rich did sing a new song he'd written, so that is, I suppose, a sign that the energy level was back (as it seemed to be). The song was touching - I believe it's called "Madeline's Song," and he wrote it about a little girl who wasn't supposed to be born because of birth defect difficulties, then wasn't supposed to survive past birth, and is now over a year old. Apparently, when Madeleine sleeps, she folds her hands together. The song, written in a waltz beat (unusual for Rich), is a beautiful tribute to how God bends down, perhaps brushing against the mountains, to hear Madeleine when she prays. It is very sweet, with some really pretty harmony on the chorus. Rich and the others also performed a round which, at one point, broke into six parts... it was not a song he wrote, but I do hope he records it.

There is so much else, but I'll just end with one more Rich quote: "What I like about the Bible is that it doesn't make sense, which makes it more like truth than anything else I've ever read."

Review by Angie Knight

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