Concert Review: Greater Vision in Kalamazoo, MI

[Note: I know, I forgot to put up a humor clip this morning. See, my brain was on hold yesterday, so I scheduled this post instead without thinking. Sorry about that!]

I had the opportunity to see Greater Vision in concert for the first time a couple weeks ago. It was wonderful to meet all the guys and chat in between the songs. I made several purchases, including the Lari Goss Tribute DVD (which I’ll review if nobody else does, because it’s awesome), and their Hymns of the Ages album with Chris’s vocals. I also brought home some GV Christmas music in anticipation of December. No, in case you’re wondering, I haven’t started listening to it yet—not one of those day-after-Thanksgiving types when it comes to Christmas music, but probably somewhere around the beginning of next month I’ll start breaking it out. Only thing is I need to take other stuff off my ipod to make room, because I just have a lowly 7.5 gig affair. Anyway, enough rambling about my ipod. Here are some highlights from the concert, plus a slideshow. Even though we weren’t allowed to use flash, my seat was so fantastic I got some nice shots anyway.

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*The first and funniest highlight was the opening song. At the moment I am actually blanking on what it was, but after the promoter gave a very moving introduction about bringing gospel music to Kalamazoo, the crowd cheered GV to the stage, and the moment they began singing… it was apparent that all was not well with the microphones. After a few moments of juggling the only good one between step-outs, Gerald stopped the show and said, “We’re going to do that again!” He said the one thing he’d learned after years of giving concerts is that if people don’t remember anything else, they remember the first thing and the last thing they hear. So he literally had the promoter come out and give the spiel all over again, after which they came back out on stage and re-started the song!

*God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: They broke out a couple of carols, and this classic arrangement went over very well.

*I Know a Man Who Can: This has become a staple concert moment for the group, and I have to say that actually sitting within a few feet of Chris Allman as he sang was on a completely different level from watching it on video!

*Gerald shared many stories that night, but one I hadn’t heard before concerned the late Tony Greene. Tony kept requesting that Greater Vision sing “Hallelujar Square” on a particular night, and his accent was so thick Gerald couldn’t understand what he was asking at first. (I love how Gerald described his initial reaction to Tony’s suggestion when they were standing together outside: “I couldn’t understand what he was saying, so I did what any good friend would do—I walked away and left him standing there talking to himself!”) When Gerald finally got it, he said they hadn’t sung it before and he didn’t want to do it, whereupon Tony said, “I have your check in my pocket.” That provided a little extra motivation, so they debuted it that night in front of thousands of people!

*His Eye is On the Sparrow/Blessed Assurance: Chris Allman did a beautiful mash-up of these two songs. I had never heard him sing “Blessed Assurance” before, but it was stunning. Hopefully they’ll do this medley elsewhere and it’ll emerge on Youtube.

*Ray Overholt, author of “Hallelujah Square,” originally hailed from Battle Creek, and Gerald took a moment to recognize his widow in the audience. He then spontaneously sang a verse and chorus of “Ten Thousand Angels” at the piano. This was a wonderful, sweet moment in the night.

*Oh Holy Night: Gerald always brings the house down with this one, and that night was no exception. Afterwards, he shared a story about a Baptist lady (Gerald does great impressions of cranky Baptist ladies) who gave him a hard time for singing Christmas carols at some time in the year other than Christmas. He responded by asking her whether she knew for 100% sure that Christ had been born on December 25th. She had to admit that she  didn’t, so Gerald rested his case!

*I Could Never Praise Him Enough: We requested this song during intermission, and it was the very first one they did in the 2nd half, so we were happy!

*Like I Wish I’d Lived/I Surrender All: Gerald always makes this a special concert moment, and I loved how Rodney led the audience in singing along with the classic hymn.

*God Wants to Hear You Sing: This made a wonderful closer.

Another funny thing about this particular concert was that during the product pitch, Gerald made a joke out of all the times that fans would request a certain product and then not actually buy it. He especially emphasized his intense desire to clear out their stock of hoodies, and they all went that night at half-price. The same deal went for some Greater Vision coffee mugs. Product pitches are generally the dullest part of a concert, but Gerald somehow managed to make even that entertaining!

After the concert I asked Chris Allman what his vocal secret is, and he says he wishes he could tell me, but he really doesn’t know. So in other words, he’s just super-talented and it kind of happens. Josh of MN SG Fan has ventured to say that Allman is the most talented SG tenor bar none, and although I would still say that Phelps probably has the most natural talent, Allman could be my overall favorite.

Meeting Gerald personally was a great experience, and I shared a funny story with him from one of my mom’s facebook friends. He was trying to sleep after a hard day, and his wife’s alarm radio accidentally came on at midnight, playing Gerald’s piano solo rendition of “There’s a Place of Quiet Rest!”

All three of these guys are the real deal, and it was my pleasure to enjoy a whole night of what they have to offer. Gerald Wolfe’s emceeing, as we all know, is one-of-a-kind, and the group brings a spirit of hope with them wherever they go. I hope you enjoyed this little snapshot of one fan’s first-time experience seeing them live.

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