Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Last Saturday night we were all Fired Up in Dungannon by a very special worship concert. Leading British hymnwriter, Stuart Townend rolled into town on the last night of a week touring Northern Ireland, and lifted the roof off the Leisure Centre.
As the evening began, there was a special treat, as Stuart introduced his band, led by Mark Edwards. The band played three instrumental numbers, including a jazz version of Abide With Me. At the start I was a bit dubious, but ended up buying Mark's CD as well, the band were so good!
Through the rest of the evening (with a break in the middle for CD sales and a cup of tea!) Stuart led worship, sang some familiar songs and taught some new ones, from his latest album The Journey. Having previously seen him lead the singing at the GAFCON/FCA event in London a couple of years ago, this was very different - a style I might call Hillbilly Hallelujah! At times there was a Mumford and Sons sound, others like a ceilidh band sound; always fairly folk with guitar, keyboards, double bass / bass guitar, drums, violin, saxophone; and various other instruments the talented band members could play - xylophone, a mouth organ type thing, tin whistle, accordion, flute etc.
Some of the old favourites were there - In Christ Alone, How deep the Father's love for us, and All my days (Beautiful Saviour); but lots of the new songs were also great and very catchy - several days later we're still humming them around the house - watch out for O My Soul; The Perfect Wisdom; The Man Who Calmed The Sea; a reworking of It Is Well With My Soul; and my favourite: Vagabonds. (click the link for samplers)
It wasn't just about the music, though, as Stuart revealed something of himself and his journey, chatting about how and why he wrote the songs on the current album, and what they mean to him. At the heart of all his songs, indeed at the heart of all the best music, is a longing to know and love Christ, and Townend's songs help us do that with solid content and meaningful words, as well as memorable and catchy tunes.
All in all a good evening, and a great album to listen - without a typical Christian CD feeling, which is no bad thing!