Milwaukee, Wisconsin Concert Review


This was my third Rich Mullins concert. I'm amazed there weren't reviews of the other two, so I'd like to make up for this oversight by doing a comparison of sorts.

I started listening to Christian music a few years ago, before I was even a Christian (when I was "searching"). Before I started listening to Christian radio, I ran across a music video program called Z Music. It was there that I saw this video with two guys in a pub in Ireland, singing about God being "Here in America". Something about the words and the music caught my attention, and I kept listening.

A few months later, I heard that Rich was going to be in concert at the Waukesha Expo Center, so I dragged a friend to go see. We were blown away! (This was when he was touring with the Ragamuffin Band.) The musicians were all great, the dulcimer rocked, and the drummer (somebody I'd never heard of from a group called The 77's) was kickin', especially when they did "I See You". Oh man, was that great! Everyone left the stage, one by one, and left the drummer at the end, playing out his rhythm for probably a whole 'nuther minute or two. What an exciting concert! Rich played all the songs that I'd seen in videos, but most of the rest I didn't know. I was awfully impressed, and picked up several tapes at the concert. (Prior to that, I owned not a one. I was just familiar with the songs from the videos and those receiving air play.) When I began listening to the tapes, I started to pick up on the depth of the message.

In late 1996, Rich paid another visit to the Milwaukee area with a performance at New Creation church. This performance was vastly different from the first one. It was more like an "unplugged" type of concert, where Rich often asked for requests. (Including a song or two that he couldn't remember the words to!) He played a lot of his numbers on keyboard, but did break out the dulcimer for a few, as well as the guitar.

This Train was also there, and (maybe) Mitch McVicker. This concert was also very enjoyable musically. Rich riled up some of the audience when he went off on CCM. (Er, New Creation brings in a lot of CCM acts, usually to The Light Club, which is a Christian nightclub.) He told the audience something to the effect of they shouldn't be going to concerts to be with God - they should be going to church (and spending time with the Bible). He slammed politics and religious denominations, too. I think he said something to the crowd about being an "equal opportunity offender". Yah, I guess!

Well, that brings me to the August 12, 1997 concert. I had the privilege of attending probably the best of the three concerts - both musically and spiritually. Man-O-Man, was it good! Mitch McVicker was very unassuming and unaffected - just a nice, humble guy. (Wants to own a frozen custard stand - a very Milwaukee thing.) This Train was loud and spunky, at times almost too loud to understand the words to their songs. The rest of the musicians were really top notch. It was amazing to watch them bounce from one instrument to another. And Rich was, well - awesome. He really poured his heart into the words and music. At this concert, I saw the musician, the poet, the philosopher, and, most importantly, the man who loves God.

Rich and the band played so many excellent songs, it's hard to give highlights! Rich and the mallet percussionist played the classical intro to "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" on the xylophone (sweet!), and Rich ran up in time to sing and play. (And that keyboard part is so excellent.) They did "Screen Door", which was great fun to watch. Another fun thing was when the boys in the back were doing drum corps-style stick maneuvers during one of the numbers. (I think it was "98 Eatonwood Green".) Also performed were "Awesome God", "If I Stand", "Such a Thing as Glory", "While the Nations Rage", "Boy Like Me/Man Like You", "I See You", "Sometimes By Step", "Hold Me Jesus", "Creed", and many others, including one of my favorites, "Ready for the Storm". (Rich called this the one song he wished he had written. He might not have written it, but he certainly interpreted it, weaving the Irish sweater story around it.) We were also delighted to hear some new songs, including "Madeleine".

Rich talked more at this concert than he had at any of the others. It seemed like he has changed since last year. He was very humble and sincere, speaking from his heart. He didn't try to rile anybody up this time. He talked about our needing to be willing to go to jail for a good cause. Since this was a Singles Ministry event, there were a lot of young people in attendance, so he directed his comments toward the youth. He talked to us about the music recitals of his childhood, and how we sometimes act like we're ashamed to be seen with our parents. He talked about Amsterdam and how it caused him to write "Hold Me Jesus". (No doubt. Parts of Amsterdam are like a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah!) One thing that Rich talked to the audience about was spending more time in the Bible. In particular, he said we could learn a lot from Proverbs. (Amen!) He also said several Rich-isms, including a new one (for me) - "Jesus loves the hell out of us". (How profound!) He returned to the Irish sweater story by saying that although we may be battered, bruised, torn to pieces, God will recognize us and bring us home to Him. ("I know him. He's one of Mine.")

I'd like to end my review with a prayer for the health and happiness of Rich, Mitch, This Train, all the other musicians, and their ministry. May your future endeavors provide you with continued growth, both musically and spiritually. You are bringing the Word of God, through your loving hearts and your music, to more people than you realize. Please don't ever doubt that.

Review by Katherine

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