Well, what a night. I don't really think a word has been invented to describe how the concert went. For those of you who did not know, I went to the Casting Crowns/Kutless/Caleb concert at First Mariner Arena. I went in with a heavy heart and came out feeling God's presence more than I have in a long time.
Caleb started things out first. Caleb is comprised of Caleb and his brother Will. They are Steven Curtis Chapman's sons. They played 3 songs. Caleb shared how one of his songs was written a number of years ago when a friend came and told him that a family member had a serious form of cancer. He started writing the song and decided to “shelf” it. Then on May 21 of last year, his sister was killed in a tragic accident at the family home. Caleb then pulled the song back out and it really ministered to him. It talked about being redeemed. All in all I would say it was a nice short set from the Chapman Boys.
Kutless came on next and did a rather short set for a second band. They opened with “It Is Well”. They then broke right into “Give Us Clean Hands”. Jon Micah then invited the crowd to sing along with the next two songs, the title track from their previous worship album "Strong Tower" and their current worship project "What Faith Can Do. I remember the first time I heard the latter song; I started to get some tears. Sometimes songs can do that when you hear them live, the song has a bigger meaning because you can actually see the emotion from the band singing it Jon Micah shared how the band has gotten tons of emails about how the song has affected their lives. That song made an impact on me hearing it live. Sometimes songs can do that. When you hear them live, it has a bigger meaning because you can actually see the emotion from the band singing it. They then closed with “I’m Still Yours” Followed by them leading the crowd in an acapella version of “Sanctuary”.
After a 5 minute video while the stage was being reset, Casting Crowns came out blazing. It has been 5 years since I have seen these guys live. I saw them twice after their first CD was released Once at Creation and the other being with Steven Curtis Chapman on his “All Things New” tour. I was excited to see what Casting Crowns was like as a headliner.
They kicked things off right away with “Until the Whole World Hears”. This caught me off guard. The song is currently a single on the radio and usually bands play their current single last. But this was ok with me. I was able to sing louder then ever! They then transitioned into “If We Are the Body” followed by “Slow Fade”. All throughout the evening, Mark Hall, who is their lead singer, was making jokes. After “Slow Fade”, Mark introduced themselves as Casting Crowns and said they were not Mercy Me. Apparently, at a lot of their shows; people come up and ask them if they are going to play “I Can Only Imagine”. That would be kind of cool to hear them do that song.
They then played “If We’ve Ever Needed You”. I would have to agree with the message in this song. This world is a cold and dark place. We as Christians are being attacked from all sides. 10 Whether it’s not being allowed to say “Merry Christmas”, or a teacher being hassled for even mentioning “Creationism”. Christians have to stand up for their faith now more than ever before.
The Crowns then proceeded into a little worship set. Kicking things off with “Glorious Day” followed by “Who Am I”, “Mercy” and “To Know You”. It was a very nice time of Worship. You could truly feel God moving.
After the worship set, each member of the band had a seat on different parts of the stage while Mark shared from his heart. Casting Crowns does a lot of ministry work with World Vision. They are an organization who helps needy children throughout the world. He spoke of the situation in Haiti and how thousands of children there were affected by the earthquake. After about 10 minutes of speaking, he invited people to “adopt” a child. The band members then moved to the front of the stage and handed out children to folks who came up. After this, we moved into a brief intermission.
During the intermission I wandered around and also moved seats. The seats at First Mariner arena were not designed for “bigger” people. The gentleman who was sitting to my left and I were quite uncomfortable. Even though I could look straight ahead and see the stage, I moved to a seat more to the left of the stage. It was still a good view. I had no one around me and I could stand without worry that I was blocking someone behind me.
After the intermission, the band came back out with “What This World Needs”. It was during this song that Juan Devevo, one of the bands guitar players and back up vocalist, introduced the band. After the intros, the band played “Holy One”.
The Crowns then all sat in a circle on stools and did a 4 song Acoustic Medley of some of their hits. They started with “I Know You’re There”; followed by “Does Anybody Hear Her” and “Stained Glass Masquerade”. Then Megan Garret, who is another back-up singer, moved up to the piano and played a beautiful version of “Blessed Redeemer”.
Once the stage was reset, Mark shared his story about how he was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADD as a child. He shared how he was taken out of one class in school, away from all of his friends and put in a remedial class where the teacher talked slower. He also said he was afraid to go to Bible Study. His class would always get into a circle and take turns reading verses. He would always count how many people were before him and then he would go to his verse and practice it. Everything was good until the person ahead of him got up to use the restroom.
He said that all his life people were telling him that he couldn’t do what he wanted. But then he heard a voice inside of his head. The voice of God telling him he could do anything. This is the story behind the song “Voice of Truth” which was then played.
“Always Enough” came next followed by a song that has a special meaning to me. A couple of years ago, I was laid off from a job. It came out of no where. My wife and I just had our first child and I was trying to figure out where the money was going to come from. As I got in my car to leave that day, I turned on the local Christian Station 95.1 WRBS. Oddly enough, now that I think about it, “Strong Tower” was just finishing and “Praise You In This Storm” came on right after it. That was a great moment for me. God was telling me, “Hey, I got your back during this rough patch in life. Everything will be ok”. Everything worked out great. I am now working! Praise God!
The band then played “East to West”. It is so good to know that God’s forgiveness stretches beyond our comprehension. How far really is the east from the west? No one except God knows. Mark then stopped and really shared from his heart. He shared how all of Casting Crowns music is based on Bible Studies they do in their home church. Each member of the band has an active role in student ministry at their church. The songs are written based on real life events in some cases. He then clearly shared the Gospel message. He said that he is sure everyone in that arena had something they wanted to leave in that arena when they left. I had something. It felt really good to “leave it behind”. After the invitation, the band played “At Your Feet”. This song really hit me. It has been a long time since I had a passion for Christ and this song helped reignite it.
The band then played “Lifesong” and Jon Micah of Kutless and Caleb Chapman of “Caleb” came out to help with the vocals. They then thanked the crowd and left the stage. That was it… no wait, it wasn’t. After about 5 minutes, the group came back on and Mark asked if we had time for one more song. After a great response, they played one of their signature songs “What If His People Prayed”. They then lead us in an Acapella version of the chorus of “Until The Whole World Hears” and they left the stage.
This show really changed me in a number of ways. It is great to be reminded that this life on Earth is only temporary. We have a loving God who is ALWAYS looking out for us. He knows what is best for us and He is in control of all of the storms in our life. If you get a chance, please go and see this tour. It is coming to Hershey, Pennsylvania on February 28th. You will be challenged and your life may be changed. God Bless!