Written By Alison Theis
On Sunday, February 16, Bartlesville hosted a Newsboys United concert at the community center. While the famous Christian band may have been the biggest attraction, they were accompanied by openers Adam Agee from Audio Adrenaline and the radiant Mandisa.
The show began with artist Adam Agee. Agee had an automatic chemistry with the crowd of fans. His energy was perfect, matching that of the crowd’s. Perhaps it was because he had his grandparents watching in the VIP section. Agee began his set, accompanied by his good friend George on the drum kit.
Within the first two songs, I quickly realized that Agee was singing along to a pre-recorded track that included background vocals, piano and guitar. Instead of playing the actual kit for most of the set, Agee’s drummer spent most of his time playing a on a sound pad mixer, while simply keeping beat with the kick drum. I was quickly turned off by this. Perhaps it is because I am old-fashioned when it comes to music. Here’s what we need to understand: the majority of concert openers aren’t given lots of time to perform a set, which is why it is so vital for them to use the time wisely.
Although Agee is clearly talented, my problem is that Agee’s set sounded like glorified karaoke. Anyone and their brother can sing along to a pre-recorded track. Not to be too harsh on a guy who’s been in the industry for years, but his set would have been better and would have shown off his real skills if performed acoustically. However, his talent between sets as MC got the crowd at the proper level of hype for the following acts.
Next to the stage was Mandisa. For those that don’t know, Mandisa is the Mariah Carrey of the Christian music world. She and her band performed a few of her more radio famous songs like “Bleed the Same, “Good Morning,” and “Overcomer.” She then shared part of testimony, which I encourage all readers to look up sometime. At the end of her testimony, Mandisa explained to the crowd that life isn’t always easy, but that’s why we have God. The band immediately went into one of Mandisa’s favorite songs, “Unfinished.” The set then took a lighter turn, going back to Mandisa’s roots. The band led the crowd in some old familiar church hymns.
Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for had arrived. After a brief intermission and a set change, the Newsboys stepped into the spotlight. Opening their set with the song “We Believe,” current lead singer Michael Tate shared a bit of his faith testimony. As the set went on, the crowd stood and worshiped with glee. The hype got even bigger when former lead singer Peter Furler and New Zealand bassist Phil Joel came to the stage. It was then that the band began to play some of the old-school Newsboys songs including the band’s personal favorite, “Entertaining Angels.” The band progressed through the ages of the band’s song history. From “Shine,” to “He Reigns,” from “Wherever We Go,” to “Born Again,” the crowd sang along, cheering until their vocal cords went raw.
During an interaction with the audience, former lead singer and Aussie Peter Furler made the comment, “You know, we’ve done old Newsboys, and we’ve done some new Newsboys. Even some in between. But you know what we haven’t done? Any DC Talk.” Referencing Michael Tate’s old group, the band convinced Tate to sing one of his throwback songs, “Jesus Freak.” Tate agreed on one condition: an audience member had to know the rap section. A gentleman named Brad stepped forward claiming to be an exterminator. Upon hearing this Tate placed his arm around the man’s shoulder and said something regarding Nancy Pelosi which sent the crowd roaring with laughter. Brad gave a rousing rap rendition of verse one of “Jesus Freak,” much to the crowd’s amazement.
Shortly after Tate began singing the next song, the batteries in his microphone began to give out, causing a slight glitch in the speakers. After a few slick dance moves, and sleight of hand, the problem was solved. After a few more songs, the band closed their set by singing “The Greatness of Our God.” After a few seconds of rambunctious applause, everyone quickly realized that they hadn’t heard their favorite Newsboys song. At once everyone began to cheer even louder, hoping for an encore song. It didn’t take long for the audience to start collectively cheering, “GOD’S NOT DEAD!” The chant went around the auditorium few times before the stage lights turned up, revealing the band ready for their encore.
Be sure to keep an eye out for more amazing performances at the Bartlesville Community Center. The next event, a Symphonic Orchestra performance of “Leaps and Bounds” is on Feb. 29. Showtimes and ticket information can be found at the BCC’s website.