AN NRT EXCLUSIVE CONCERT REVIEW AND PHOTO GALLERY
"2 Friends" Tour Part 1: Amy Grant's Looming Legacy
NRT's Kevin Davis caught the final show of the "2 Friends" tour with Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.

By kevindavis

AN NRT EXCLUSIVE CONCERT REVIEW AND PHOTO GALLERY,
Amy Grant: "I started writing something for my mother over 20 years ago about aging. Back then, I thought, what do I know about aging? Now when I washed my face this morning, I see the changes in my face. What I know is that things change, but it's good to know The One who never changes."
I had the amazing opportunity to attend the final show of the sold-out “2 Friends Tour” with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith at American Music Theatre in Lancaster, Penn. on Sunday night, March 6, 2011.

The signs in the lobby were for upcoming shows by Melissa Etheridge, Gary Allan, Chicago and Meat Loaf. The message and light of the Gospel was being brought into the heart of Lancaster. I’ve been listening to Amy Grant for more than 25 years as I first heard “El-Shaddai”, “Thy Word” and “Tennessee Christmas” when I was in high school in 1985.

Like many avid Christian music collectors, I believe that 1988’s Lead Me On was one of the most influential albums in the history of Christian music. Amy truly paved the way for all female artists and today I hear her influence in some of my favorite artists, including Sara Groves, Bethany Dillon, Britt Nicole and Francesca Battistelli.

The capacity crowd of 2,000 was cheering non-stop as both Michael and Amy walked out hand-in-hand and took the stage together, with Michael playing keyboards for Amy, the same as they started out together.

Amy began by singing "Stay For Awhile," which kicked off the theme of the evening--the passage of time. Amy commented, "We'll sing songs from all eras, and if you don't hear what you came to hear, we’ll have to come back." Amy then told us all to stand up, she loved the 80s and belted out "Everywhere I Go." She called it her “dip and sway song.” The 80s songs continued with "Find A Way," which ended with a great guitar solo by Amy’s long-time guitarist Pat Buchanan. The musical excellence of the night was truly one of the highlights, and every song featured stellar musicianship.

I was thrilled when next Amy sang the worship classic "Sing Your Praise To The Lord." The song got the crowd back on our feet singing to our God and King. After the song Amy said, "When I sing that song, I think of Rich Mullins on the other side, laughing. I'm 50 now, and I’m still singing his song."

 Exclusive Amy Grant Live Photo Gallery (17)
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We then were treated to "Saved By Love," which was written for Amy's sister Carol, which Amy told us she changed to Laura because it was easier to sing. She also introduced us to Tony Harold on keyboards and the newest, youngest band member, her back-up singer, Jenny Gill. Amy said, "I'm so glad I married her daddy 11 years ago."

There was no mistaking the opening notes of "Baby Baby," which got the “dancers” back on their feet. After the song, Amy said, "Heart in Motion was released 20 years ago yesterday. I need these great back-up singers to help me sing these songs now."

That led to "Every Heartbeat," another one of Amy’s cross-over mega-hit songs from that all-time best-selling album. Amy continued, "Fast forward 20 years later, here’s my newest song," and she sang "Better Than A Hallelujah." I can’t get enough of her great new song, which addresses the topic of being honest with yourself and God. Her vocals are still stellar and the poignant message behind this song has me hooked again, similar to Amy’s classic songs “Lead Me On” and “Saved By Love,” both in catchiness and transparency.

The reflective mood continued with "Arms Of Love," her updated nearly 30-year-old classic released on Somewhere Down the Road, and "What About The Love," from Lead Me On. Afterwards, Amy introduced the rest of her band: Gene Miller on guitar, Mike Brigadello on bass, and Greg Marrow on drums.

She said, "I started writing something for my mother over 20 years ago about aging. Back then, I thought, what do I know about aging? Now when I washed my face this morning, I see the changes in my face. I hope to have another reunion tour 20 years from now. Who knows, maybe if we eat our Wheaties. What I know is that things change, but it's good to know The One Who never changes."

When she started singing "El Shaddai," I welled up and couldn't even get the words "the frailty of Your Son" out of my mouth as the tears rolled down my cheeks. It truly is an amazing song and only Amy’s sincere vocals capture the raw emotion of it: “Age to age, You’re still the same, by the power of Your name.”

Amy continued with a medley of "Jesus Loves Me/They'll Know We Are Christians/Helping Hands." Smitty came back on the stage, and together they sang "Lead Me On," which was highlighted by the ensemble vocals and incredible music. The crowd just kept clapping when the song finished, which led to an incredible performance of "Emmanuel." I loved belting out “Wonderful Counselor, Lord of Life, Lord of All, He is the Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Holy One, Emmanuel.” The first set of the night ended with a raucous performance of "Put A Little Love In Your Heart."

Together Michael and Amy told us about Compassion International. Michael told a moving story about how he got to give a high school diploma to his sponsored child, who had an amazing encounter with God. He went on to tell us that 22 people in the Lopez family now also know Christ due to the great work of Compassion International.

After the intermission, Michael W. Smith took to the piano, solo. Read the second part of my concert review here.
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Posted March 08, 2011 | Kevin Davis is a long time fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. Kevin also writes reviews for ChristianMusicReview.org. All photos provided by David Holzemer of CollidePhoto.com.

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Rated 5 Stars
:D | Posted March 11, 2011
so wish i coulda been there... :D
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