Photo credits: @NathanArmstrong
Rarely are Sunday nights meant for rock concerts. Typically, it’s for rest, Sunday night baseball maybe, but never for rock shows. But this past Sunday, the Lander’s Center was filled with people desiring to break the norm.
The night kicked off with up and coming band, Welshly Arms. Welshly Arms, the Cleveland rock quartet, performed songs from their new self-titled album, including a cover of Memphis’ very own Sam & Dave’s “Hold on, I’m coming.” The r&b, rock n’ roll group set the tone for the night and made for a tough act to follow.
John Mark McMillon, most famous for writing the Christian worship megahit, “How He Loves,” took the stage next. McMillon, accompanied by his band, was dressed head to toe in all white. His booming voice echoed from the walls as it filled the room. McMillon played his newest single, “Wilderlove,” but unfortunately it seemed to fall upon deaf ears. Ironically, the man behind perhaps the most famous Christian worship song ever was maybe the least followed artist. All things aside, McMillon put on a wonderful show and definitely deserves more attention, so go put some “raspeck on his name” and listen to his music.
Next up was Eugene, Oregon native, Mat Kearney. Kearney, now living in Nashville, showed so much love to the city of Memphis, saying he remember how inspired he was just driving through on the way to Nashville. Kearney took that inspiration to the stage and put on a PERFORMANCE. Starting off with, “Air I Breath,” he completely took control of the crowd. He spoke about dropping out of college to release his first hit, “Nothing Left to Lose,” and told stories in songs like, “Hey Mama,” and, “Ships in the Night.” Kearney is the ultimate writer of songs that are there for you when you really need them. He tells stories and shares them with the world, and that is why he put on such a great show.
As Kearney left the stage, the set up crew came out to get everything ready for the main event. The arena was full by the time NEEDTOBREATHE stepped on stage. But this wasn’t a NEEDTOBREATHE that had been seen before, this was totally different. Starting off with a single from their most recent album, HARD LOVE, they let everyone know just how different things would be. It was not just the consistent southern rock sound that NEEDTOBREATHE has been known for, it was completely different.
At first I was shocked, there were lasers, electronic sound effects and a giant video screen behind them. It seems like they are trying something different and adding to their already unique sound. Most of their set consisted of HARD LOVE, but they played classics like, “Washed by the Water,” and, “Girl Named Tennessee.” The best moment of the night was when the band performed an acoustic version of, “Let’s Stay Home Tonight,” and then followed it with “Oh, Carolina.” After the set was finished, Bear came out and performed snippets of the songs they had seemingly forgotten throughout the night like, “Be Here Long,” “Don’t Wait for Daylight,” “Tyrant Kings,” “We Could Run Away,” and “Something Beautiful.” Afterwards, the full band and all the previous acts took the stage to perform, “Brother.”
So I’m still not sold on this new NEEDTOBREATHE sound, but the show overall was exceptional. NEEDTOBREATHE is at their best when they are at their simplest, but what they did Sunday night was not bad at all. It was also amazing to see how good of friends everyone on the tour is, not something you see every day.