Christian singer Michael W. Smith prompts encore at Luhrs Center
By CARA SHUMAKER
Managing Editor/The Slate
The lights dimmed as the powerful intro began. The booming bass blasted throughout the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center as Grammy-winner Michael W. Smith took the stage.
The intro included a medley of Smith’s songs performed by an orchestra with the band slowly making its way in, instrument by instrument. First, the drums; next, the lead guitar; then, the bass; finally, the back-up keyboards, synthesizer and in harmony all began their parts as Smith prepared to enter the stage.
Smith’s cue came and the jam-packed Luhrs Center erupted with applause and cheers. Smith’s relaxed stage presence nicely complemented his dress pants, cardigan, shirt and tie and Nikes.
The relaxing atmosphere continued as the first song began, “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” a popular worship song, originally written by Paul Baloche.
As Smith’s show continued, it became a roller coaster of upbeat tempos, transitions, medleys and audience participation. The variety of songs kept the audience wondering what would be next.
Having nearly 200 songs to choose from, nobody knew what Smith would play.
Most of the show was popular worship music. Smith played a few of his most well-known contemporary songs. He played “Friends,” “Place in this World” and “This is Your Time” along with more worship songs.
As Smith explained his song-writing process, he tried to express how difficult it can be not to write “manufactured music.” He said music should come from within, even if it is difficult.
He joked that on his last album, “Glory,” he kept writing songs for a movie score, except the movie was in his head. This struggle to write any lyrics led to his second instrumental album. He played the song “Patriot” from that album, dedicating it to the members of the Armed Forces. Before the song, however, Smith asked that all active and retired servicemen and women stand as the audience applauded them in thanks for their service.
Despite the brief explanations and popular songs, most of the night was spent in worship.
During “Mighty to Save,” an audience member stood up with arms raised, praising God during the song. The feelings during the majority of the show were very intimate and spiritual. Smith encouraged people in the audience who did not know Jesus Christ personally to get to know him.
Smith concluded the show with a very moving combination of his songs “Healing Rain” and “Agnus Dei.” The audience cheered for Smith to come back out on stage for an encore, where Smith then performed “I am Free,” originally recorded by the Newsboys. The song’s chorus is a call-and-repeat, so the audience was encouraged to be involved. Every time it was the audience’s turn to sing, the stage lights flashed into the crowd, letting them know it was their turn.
Once the excitement of the encore died down, Smith talked for a few minutes, gave a blessing over everyone and ended with a song from his “Wonder” album.