Mark Hall, the front man for Christian rock band Casting Crowns, made an intriguing suggestion Thursday at the Sprint Cente:. "The kind of music you listen to is either who you are or who you want to be," Hall said.
If Hall's assertion is correct, then the approximately 4,000 fans who came to see his band can be characterized as charitable, kind and earnest. They also love immaculately crafted but highly derivative inspirational music.
The greatest asset of Casting Crowns is their memorable songs of praise. Original compositions like "Praise You In This Storm" have become staples of contemporary Christian worship services. Their talent as writers and as strong performers made the band one of of the most commercially successful acts of the previous decade.
Their first three songs Thursday showcased their strengths. Arena rocker "Until the Whole World Hears" boasts the sort of crunchy riff, memorable melody and sing-along chorus that was once associated with secular bands like Bon Jovi and Journey. The insistent "If We Are the Body" is no less catchy. And the dramatic dynamics of "Slow Fade" evoke the biggest hits of Fleetwood Mac. Castings Crowns would go on to copy the styles of U2 on "Lifesong" and Coldplay on "To Know You."
Even during their most raucous songs, however, it would be impossible to forget that Casting Crowns is a vehicle for evangelism. Much of the audience kept their arms raised in postures of prayer, screens behind the stage displayed song lyrics and several prayers and miniature sermons were offered between songs.
"Music is great," Hall noted. "But we need something more than music."
Several minutes were dedicated to raising funds to support the efforts in Haiti of Christian humanitarian agency World Vision.
Thursday's outing was the first night of the second leg of Casting Crowns' tour. A few awkward transitions between songs and minor production glitches didn't mar the band's strong performance. A pleasing acoustic segment that featured the powerful vocals of Megan Garrett contained the evening's best moments.
Caleb Chapman, son of Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman, opened the show with a few appealing songs and sympathetic testimony of his faith. In spite of a shaky stage presence, the innate talent he displayed showed tremendous promise.
A set by Kutless, stars in the world of Christian rock, was less successful. While their message resonated with a few fans, Kutless' anonymous effort fell flat. Creating convincing Christian rock isn't easy. Casting Crowns may not be perfect, but their outing at the Sprint Center served as a reminder that their ongoing success is well deserved.
Casting Crowns set list: Until the Whole World Hears, If We Are the Body, Slow Fade, If We've Ever Needed You, Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me), Who Am I, To Know You, The Altar and the Door, Holy One, I Know You're There, Does Anybody Hear Her, Blessed Redeemer, Voice of Truth, Always Enough, Praise You In This Storm, East to West, At Your Feet, Lifesong, What If His People Prayed.
| Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star