Concert Review: Michael W. Smith 2006 Tour
Concert Date: August 7, 2006
· Michael W. Smith
· Paul Moak
· Christa Black
· James Gregory
· Michael Olson
· Glenn W. Pearce
· Jim Daneker
· Official Site
by Paul Schultz
Published: August 13, 2006
Michael W. Smith has enjoyed a long career in Contemporary Christian music, and he brought his talents and ministry to a recent concert at the Wisconsin State Fair. He's been consistent in his musical calling, with occasional crossover attention including a #6 hit in 1991 with "Place In This World" and the top 30 "I Will Be Here For You" (1992). He's collaborated with fellow piano man Jim Brickman on the latter's "Love Of My Life," and has recently branched out into acting in "The Second Chance" as well as contributing to its soundtrack.
With the fair's world famous cream puffs dutifully consumed, we took our seats on the track of the one-mile oval Milwaukee Mile and were right in line to watch the moon rise behind the stage during the performance. The baseball cap-adorned Smith led things off with a worship favorite, "Open the Eyes of my Heart," which instantly transformed the crowd into "sing-a-long" mode. He followed it up with his condensed-version of Jesus' life story in "Secret Ambition" -- the only trip to older material that he would make this night. For an old-school (or, more accurately, "mid-school") Smitty fan such as myself, it was slightly disappointing, and significantly cut down on my "sing-a-long" time. Still, his newer material is nothing to sniff at, and Smith cranked out one quality song after another.
The (nearly) full moon rose during Michael W. Smith's set.
The Michael W. Smith Project (1983)
Michael W. Smith 2 (1984)
The Big Picture (1986)
The Live Set (1987)
i 2 (EYE) (1988)
Go West Young Man (1990)
Change Your World (1992)
The First Decade, 1983-1993 (October 12, 1993)
I'll Lead You Home (August 29, 1995)
Live The Life (April 28, 1998)
Christmastime (October 13, 1998)
This Is Your Time (November 23, 1999)
Freedom (November 21, 2000)
Worship (September 11, 2001)
Worship Again (October 22, 2002)
The Second Decade, 1993-2003 (October 7, 2003)
Healing Rain (October 26, 2004)
Stand (November 7, 2006)
He introduced a couple of new songs that will be featured on a new album, titled "Stand," which will be released on November 7th. He talked about the theme that the new album explores, that of making a positive impact on the culture around us by taking a stand for our beliefs. He asked us to think about our attendance at Sunday worship services, and that a large percentage of what it means to be the church -- the real body of Christ -- should be lived outside the walls of a church building during the rest of the week. He drew to a close with "that concludes Smitty's mini-sermon." He walked the crowd through the chorus of the new tunes "Cover Me with Your Love," and "Open Arms" so we could all join along in the fun.
Jim Daneker - white and black key instruments
Paul Moak - Guitar
Glenn W. Pearce - Guitar
Christa Black - violin
James Gregory - bass
Michael Olson - drums
Smith shared that it had been a difficult past week for him, with his father-in-law dying from cancer and the effects of Alzheimer's disease. In tribute, he sang "Live Forever" from his last album, with hope that they will meet again someday ("And I believe that there is somewhere where the angels fill the sky/And I believe we'll live forever, you and I/You and I will never die").
Highlights of the evening featured just Smith and his keyboard, such as on the repetitively poignant "Never Been Unloved" from arguably his best album, 1998's Live the Life. He also gave a passionate rendition of the title track from his latest album, Healing Rain, concluding with an extended improvisational jam.
He mined his pair of praise-and-worship albums for "Above All," "Draw Me Close," and the popular "Here I Am To Worship." He concluded his set with Chris Tomlin's "How Great is Our God," which changed mid-song into the old hymn "How Great Thou Art." And so, he left the large audience the way he greeted them -- singing along in musical adoration to God.
Smith didn't actually leave the stage, so I don't know if you can call what came next technically an encore. He commented that we were delaying his return trip home to Nashville by our applause, but indulged us with "Everybody Can Come to the Cross," which he introduced as the first single that will come off the new album. He expressed his earnest prayer for us -- that we would genuinely accept the unconditional love of God. Then he taught us the chorus, and took the first opportunity of the night to traverse the length of the stage as he belted out the upbeat tune.
He's mellowed since he and Amy Grant were known as the "Ken" and "Barbie" of Contemporary Christian music. Yet his love of Christ remains the center of his life, and he imparted that message to the rest of us with his fervid performance.