The Newsboys are regarded as one of the premier Christian music acts going today. Currently touring in support of their new CD, the Newsboys' "The Way We Roll" tour hit Albany's Washington Avenue Armory on Sunday night.
Before I get into the review, I have to share this with you. My girlfriend & I bought our tickets 2 1/2 weeks prior to the show. The Newsboys are one of her favorites, and she acted as if she was a 12 year old going to a Jonas Brothers show. She was that giddy with excitement and anticipation. 3 1/2 hours before we were to leave for Albany, she called me at home. When I picked up the line, she nearly blew out my ear with a loud shriek. She just couldn't contain the excitement any longer.
Anyway, when we got there, there was already a long line forming outside the doors of the armory, almost extending to the library next door. We went in, and settled into our seats. Normally, the average concert doesn't start on time. There is usually a delay of about 5-10 minutes before the show actually starts in order for fans to find their seats after hitting the concessions. In this case, the first band was on six minutes early!!! The program actually started around 6:50, when the local radio station's reps came out to do a warmup for the crowd. At 6:54, Bread of Stone, a relatively new 4-piece combo, took the stage.
Bread of Stone, if I understood the intro correctly (The sound system still needs to be addressed, as the volume is a wee bit too loud for mere talking), are or were based out of Indonesia, and are making plans to return there after the current tour to help with relief efforts after recent disasters. Due to the excessive volume, I couldn't follow most of the lyrics during a 5 song, 21 minute set.
In between acts, a video would play of the Newsboys helping build homes in Baja Mexico, among other charitable efforts. Another newcomer, Grace Campbell, came out as an unadvertised bonus act and did 1 lip-synched dance pop number with a pre-recorded backing track that took just under 5 minutes. She's cute and all that, so we may be hearing more from her sooner than later.
Next up was Me In Motion, another new combo. 23 minutes of power pop-rock (it wouldn't be fair to classify them as punk rockers, a la Green Day), and this time it was a little easier to understand the lyrics, even though for the life of me I couldn't tell you the song titles.
Seventh Day Slumber opened with a cover of MercyMe's 2001 hit, "I Can Only Imagine". It took me a while to recognize the song, which was a highlight of their set, clocking out around 30-35 minutes. I'm interested in seeing these guys again.
But it was the Newsboys that everyone wanted to see, and there were a few who'd been spending the majority of their evening roaming the merchandise booths and concession stands before rushing toward the stage. The Newsboys hit the ground running with "Something Beautiful" & "Everywhere We Go". New lead singer Michael Tait (ex-DC Talk) acquitted himself well, putting his own stamp on the hits. "Breakfast" was a real crowd pleaser, but it was a bit of a surprise that other songs like "Shine" were relegated to a mid-set medley during which the band moved to a smaller stage at the end of the runway. For the encore, the band closed with DC Talk's signature song, "Jesus Freak". Coincidentally, Tait's former bandmate, TobyMac, closed his show in the same building 2 years ago with "Jesus Freak" as well. If you're a regular listener to the syndicated K-Love radio network, "Freak" is usually used for short interstitals about Christians throughout history, usually narrated by Tait.
The lone disappointment was that the ballad, "In the Hands of God", wasn't included, probably because Tait hasn't learned the lyrics yet, though I can't say for sure. Maybe next time.