Kevin Davis: "It was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening of over 30 songs and 3 hours of celebrating the historic and influential careers of these 2 Friends. Today’s industry has these 2 brilliant artists to thank for paving the way for today’s Christian music market."
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.
In Part I of this article, I talked about the amazing performance by Amy Grant, which took us through a legacy that's still looming large. After the break, Michael W. Smith's timeline was on display.
Following intermission, Michael came out by himself and just sat at his keyboard and started playing "Place In This World" which caused the crowd to cheer wildly. Next, Michael surprised us by playing the instrumental song "The Giving" from Freedom. Michael told us how much he loves soundtrack music and how his record label didn’t immediately embrace the idea of an instrumental album and thanked us for supporting him. Michael talked about co-writing and Amy came out, and she sang "Thy Word" and "Angels," which Amy told us, "is a true story from The Bible."
Michael said he didn’t know what year they wrote the next song, and Amy quickly said “1986,” which led to "Faithless Heart." One of my favorite moments of the night was next. Michael went on to say that in 2006, he and Amy co-wrote "How Can I Say Goodbye" from Stand. The song was originally written for Michael’s daughter, Whitney, when she left to California for college. Michael said he couldn’t sing it without crying. But now that it has been more than four years since then, he’s changed the song to Amy's key, so she can sing the song for her daughter, Sarah, who is leaving for college. Amy said she also couldn’t sing it without crying but had called Vince Gill to let him know that the song was therapy for her and certainly cheaper than paying a therapist.
"Somewhere Somehow" was a fun surprise from 1992’s Change Your World, and is a love song sung as a duet with Amy. Ironically, the song was a hit in Asia, but never got traction in the USA. Before this tour, the last time they sang the duet together was in the recording studio some 20 years ago.
The set switched at that point to Michael and his full band, including "Open The Eyes Of My Heart" and "Forever" as a medley from Michael’s best-selling Worship, and they are great church worship standards written by Paul Baloche and Chris Tomlin.
A highlight for me was the next set of songs, starting with "Secret Ambition" and then "Rocketown." It was very cool to hear those classics back-to-back. Even though those songs are over 20 years old, they display for me the incredible influence Smitty has had in shaping the genre that is now Christian pop and current best-selling artists Brandon Heath, Chris Tomlin and Chris August are following in his footsteps. Michael told us a great story about co-writing with Nik Kershaw in London for 1998’s Live The Life. He said, “We wrote 10 songs together and nine weren’t very good, but I keep coming back to this one song,” and he sang "Let Me Show You The Way," which I wholeheartedly agree is one of the gems of Michael’s incredible catalog.
The song showed his cutting edge Brit-pop sensibilities which 13 years later can now be heard all throughout Christian music, from The Afters, Luminate, Phil Wickham, Kristian Stanfill and many others. Michael introduced his band and I was thrilled to see Stu G from Delirious playing guitar as he is one of my all-time favorite guitarists.
Michael mentioned that he hadn’t sung any songs from his current album, Wonder, which led to his reflective ballad "Welcome Home." The song is a great reminder that as believers, this fallen world is not our home.
Next came the worship classics "Mighty To Save", "Above All" and then "Majesty," and all were very moving and worshipful. It was a treat to hear Stu G playing the amazing guitar part from his original Delirious worship classic “Majesty,” and the song reminded me how much I love that band.
Amy came back to the stage and the both artists’ full bands joined together to belt out "Healing Rain." The sold-out crowd all lifted their hands in worship crying out, “We want to be washed in Heaven's rain."
The brilliant worship song "Agnus Dei" was the closer. I get chills every time I sing this song with fellow believers as I glimpse a picture of eternity in Heaven singing to Jesus, “Worthy Is The Lamb.” It was amazing.
Everyone left the stage, and then they came back with Amy wearing her Unguarded jacket, as she finished with "Love Of Another Kind," and finally just Michael and Amy stood together and appropriately finished with "Friends." At first her microphone didn't work, and neither did the replacement. The audience was rolling with laughter and then they just shared Michael's microphone. After a stagehand activated the mic, it was a classic, transparent Amy moment as she tossed the mic back and forth mocking the technical difficulties only to pop the switch off again to her own shock and disbelief.
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening of over 30 songs and 3 hours of celebrating the historic and influential careers of these 2 Friends. Today’s industry has these 2 brilliant artists to thank for paving the way for today’s Christian music market. I am so grateful personally for the many blessings I’ve received over the years from their ministry of music. Thank you Amy and Michael for sharing your gifts for the Kingdom of God. As we sang together in Lancaster and will sing together to God for eternity, “Hallelujah, Worthy Is The Lamb. Amen.”
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.