The Grand Rapids Press, Friday, September 12, 1997
Christian Rock's Jars of Clay Turns 'Em Out Big At First Allegan Show
by Terry Deboer
ALLEGAN-Jars of Clay uncorked some new songs in concert Thursday at the Allegan County Fair.
But can you blame fans of the pop-rock band for preferring to hear tunes from "vintage" Jars? Nevertheless, the Dove Award-winning band dished out both old and new for the youthful crowd.
Next week marks the official release of "Much Afraid," the Grammy-nominated band's second album, and the guys of Jars of Clay performed at least a half-dozen songs from the collection.
Many, however, in the larger-than anticipated crowd of more than 6,500 were chanting "Flood, Flood, Flood" before the band was halfway through its 90-minute set. "Flood" is the name of the band's hit song from its debut album.
"I don't think it's going to rain tonight," teased lead singer Dan Haseltine, "Perhaps, later," he added.
The band had opened their set with "Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows," its cover of the song originally recorded by the Christian rock band Petra.
The Jars guys followed that with "Like a Child" and "Boy on a String" from its first album. Haseltine was showing extra energy in the cool weather, doing turning jumps in time with the music.
The sound mix was reasonable, even in the expansive track and grandstand areas. The band had no string section or players in its entourage. Keyboardist Charlie Lowell handled synthesizer and organ. Added to the Jars of Clay foursome were bassist Aaron Sands and drummer Scott Savage.
The band reeled off three new tunes in a row, including the father-and-son inspired Five Candles (You Were There). The hooky sounds of the new material had yet to sink in and the crowd began its chant for "Flood."
Guitarist Stephen Mason demurred, leading the band in a shortened version of John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads," adding the appreciated lyric, "Allegan, Michigan."
Jars also performed a parody of its sometimes overly intellectual style with the humorous "Coffee Song." During the send-up, guitarist Matt Odmark mimicked the sound of a cappuccino machine. "Crazy Times," from the new album was served up along with the title track.
After a thoughtful introduction and a sensitive offering of "Worlds Apart," the band tagged the song with an audience sing-along "Hallelujah." The ending of "Fade to Grey," finally gave way to "Flood," which brought the largest fan reaction of the evening. "Love Song for a Savior," another hit from the group's first album, began the encore.
The acoustic-driven music of the band does not easily translate in large-venue concerts. Coincidentally, Haseltine is not a lead singer who spouts showy dynamics. He sometimes whispers the words, but he never growls, screams or screeches. All the better to be clear as the voice for Jars of Clay's lyrical pictures of life and faith.
The evening opened with Audio Adrenaline, whose too-short six-song set came after the concert began a half-hour late. The band members included the title song from their upcoming album "Some Kind of Zombie" as well as the favorite "Big House" and their cover of the Edgar Winter Group's "Free Ride."*
*Article transcribed from The Grand Rapids Press, Friday, September 12, 1997, page B12.
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