NQC KickOff/Jubilee II Premier Concert Review- Sunday September 12th
For a couple of months now the original Jubilee artists (Legacy Five, Booth Brothers, Greater Vision) have been advertising that the kickoff premier concert for their new record Jubilee II would be held on Sunday September 12th in Louisville Kentucky at the location where the National Quartet Convention is held. That event starts tonight and last night was well a kickoff of sorts for the NQC. I was there and came away impressed by all three artists. When I arrived on location, (the event was not held in Freedom Hall even though it could have been, it was held in the East Hall which holds around 2500 people when packed and it was packed)… I arrived around 4:20 thinking I could get a good seat since I was an hour and a half early (which is saying something for me) I was wrong to say the least the place was packed already with fans just waiting for the doors to open. At 5:00 they opened the doors all of the fans including me started pouring into the hall. I found a decent seat about 15 rows back in the center I actually found myself seated right next to the Freedom Singers, they are great guys. At 6:00 the groups all got together on stage and sang “Jubilee” after which the Booth Brothers started the first set of the night. (Each group had a six to seven song set before coming back out together for Jubilee II) Below I will list each group and their set of songs, with comments after each one.
- Absolute Peace- They started with a song that really shows off the harmony of the group, setting the stage for the rest of their set. This song is on their latest CD Declaration as was most of their set list.
- I See Grace- This is one of my favorites off of the new CD, it was my first time seeing them stage this one live and I have to say that it is even better live than it is on CD. This particular song is really begging to be sent to radio, and I sure hope Daywind/Booth Brothers see fit to do just that. (They are expected to have a distribution deal with Daywind soon on the Declaration project)
- We Believe- This song is very powerful in a live setting. With the Booth Brothers ability to communicate a lyric and with 2500 people eating out of their hands, It made for a magical and moving performance. Vocally the guys were the best I believe I have heard them on given song, that moment of what was a magical night, won’t soon be forgotten by this blogger.
- He Saw It All- This song was a wise choice to follow a power ballad such as “We Believe”. This particular song is the one that for all intents and purposes launched the Booth Brothers popularity to where they are today. Ronnie Booth is sounding as smooth as ever with his performance of this great story type song.
- All Over The World- This song is not particularly Southern Gospel sounding… It is what Michael Booth coined as a Southern Gospel Samba, which is quite fitting for sure, I was expecting at any moment for them to bring out the sombreros. This song does have a good message and was very well sung last night, if you can excuse Michael’s poor dance routine which was done more in good humor than anything else, lets just say he won’t be getting an invite to “Dancing With The Stars” anytime soon!
- When I Met The Master- As powerful as “We Believe” was, their performance of this Mosie Lister classic was on the same level maybe even more… Even though their rendition has a slow buildup the finish is very very powerful, especially in a live setting with one of the best groups on the road today. This was for sure a great choice to close out the Booth Brothers powerful 6 song set.
- Strike Up The Band- This song has been a great opener for L5 for the last four years since the original recording. It has always went over well live and last night was no exception the guys were on with this one. Of particular note was when the lead was handed off to Gus, he nailed it with expert skill without over singing his part, which is a trap that many tenors fall into when they are given a chance like that.
- I Found Grace- This is the only number one song that L5 has ever had, (and they have recorded some really powerful songs) and they use this song to great effect in their song repertoire. Crowds always seem to love this song and for good reason, it is one of the best songs that Roger Bennett wrote out of the many great songs that he wrote.
- I Stand Redeemed- Since Gus Gaches joined the group in January L5 has for the most part been introducing him using this song with piano only. While he does not sing it high as the original version, Gus really sings this song with passion and conviction, and has that ability to draw you in with his smooth tenor voice. The lyrics of the song are still as powerful as ever and Gus communicates them in a way few singers can. He has really made a name for himself in the last nine months, and he will only continue to prove himself as one of the premier tenors in the business.
- Life Will Be Sweeter- L5 recorded this song on the first Jubilee CD and have been staging it ever since. Gus stands out once again on this one, and Tim Parton also really showed out with his superb piano turnaround. The original version of this song while very well done, in my opinion just is not as good as L5′s… Some may say why even make a compassion such as this but it is relevant to this review. I am glad to see L5 still staging a classic like this one…
- Tim Parton Piano Solo- In My Heart There Rings A Melody- Tim Parton is one of the best and most talented musicians on the road today, and his take on this song is proof of that. He has really carved out his own niche as Roger Bennetts replacement, which would have been daunting task for any piano player, but Tim has handled it with class without encroaching on the memory of Roger. I do hope he wins the Favorite Musician award this year at the Singing Fan Awards, and if he doesn’t, it won’t change my opinion of him not in the least bit…
- God’s Been Good- Scott set up this song with a great story about his wife and kids. And Tim gave maybe his best performance (at least when I have seen him do it live) of this beautiful song.
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness- When I first heard L5′s version of this song I thought “Man this should go over well live” and well I have seen it several times live since then and I was right it does go over very well live. Last night it went over better than I had seen before, L5 sang it very well but there is something about the start of NQC that brings out the best in artists and fans alike it seems.
- He’d Still Been God- Greater Vision came out rolling with this hit song. I have always enjoyed this song on the CD, but it is even more enjoyable live. Chris Allman also really adds to this song.
- I Could Never Praise Him Enough- This song is one that Chris wrote and is probably his signature song with Greater Vision. Last night was actually my first time getting to see Greater Vision with Chris Allman and I was definitely not let down. He has a great pure tone that is hard to come by these days in Southern Gospel Tenors.
- Better Hurry Up- This song is one that Greater Vision did on the first Jubilee CD. It goes over better live than it does on the actual CD.
- Hallelujah Square- Gerald Wolfe told a funny story talking about how they first came to sing this song. Chris Allman got the lead and he really nailed it for sure. Like I said earlier he really has pure tone and he also featured a nice range on this particular song, even though he is not the highest tenor out there he more than makes up for it with his superb pure tone.
- Never Been- This is one of my favorite new songs by Greater Vision. This Rodney Griffin penned tune has a great and powerful message and is very well sung. It went over very well as most Rodney songs do.
- It Pays To Pray- This may be the best written Rodney Griffin song recorded by Greater Vision in the last ten years, and that is saying something considering how many good songs he has written. This song just has that once in a lifetime quality about it that is hard to come by these days in Southern Gospel written songs. Rodney also does a very powerful job singing this song, you can tell that the lyrics really mean something to him and it showed last night.
- I Want To Know That You Know- This song was in my opinion a odd choice as the closer to their set, but it seemed to work. Gerald said it is their shortest recorded song.
- Jesus Is Coming Soon- This song featured all three groups at the same time. Well this has been a classic for years, and these guys have put a new spin on it that really breathes some life into this great song. The tenors in particular really nail their parts.
- Sing Me A Song About Jesus- This song once again featured all three groups singing in choir mode. I have always liked this song but I enjoy it even more now after seeing these guys stage it live with this ensemble of singers. Tim Parton is given a piano turnaround in the middle of the song after a tenor trio. That turnaround was Tim Parton at his very best in my opinion, he really made those keys smoke.
- Don’t Hang Your Head- This easy swing type song written by Jim Brady was sung superbly, by the Booth Brothers with Legacy Five providing some very nice background quartet harmony repeats much to the chagrin of Michael. The crowd really seemed to enjoy this one, and the guys really seemed to have some fun on this tune.
- I Never Shall Forget The Day- This old Speer family song featuring Legacy Five was “the” highlight of the Jubilee II set… They have a new track for this song that really matches the intensity of the actual song. Last night by the time the lead on this song was handed off to Gus to take it home, the crowd was already on their feet in delight and were begging for a turnaround that they didn’t get… Tim said after the song was over that Scott had come to him after they had recorded it and had said that they should have added a turnaround in the studio. Alas they didn’t, but not having a turnaround did not change the outcome, the crowd loved it and was left wanting more of the same.
- When I Wake Up- It was back to choir mode for this one and this song has been covered by more than one quartet, but never by a choir of Southern Gospel groups. With Glenn Dustin anchoring that bass part and really nailing it, these guys really amped up the energy and once again left the crowd wanting more and this time they gave it to them. They did an encore with the piano only, and it helped put some oomph on the ending.
- When They Ring The Bells Of Heaven- Greater Vision was featured on this one and they did a great job with it for sure. Once again Chris Allman continues to impress me with his pure tenor voice that just blows me away. Bringing him back into the Greater Vision fold was one of the best decisions that Gerald has made this decade…
- I’m Free Again- They closed with this song once again back in choir mode. Glenn Dustin in particular really stood out on this number. This song like most of the others is an older tune that has been given the “Jubilee” treatment and it really sounded great last night.
Overall it was a great night that I won’t soon forget, this was my first jubilee concert and I was not let down one bit. Everyone of the guys on that stage last night were truly having fun singing with each other and are all class acts, and that is not always a given even in this genre of music. So if you get the chance to attend a Jubilee concert do not pass that opportunity up, last night was a magical night that I was glad to be a part of, and trust me you don’t want to miss out on that kind of onstage magic. There is a video taping of the new CD on October 7th at the TBN studios in Hendersonville TN. The tickets are free and can be ordered here.