Tomlin Enthuses, Inspires Van Andel Audience

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Tomlin hands235It probably was a surprise to most of the assembled crowd. Singer-songwriter-worship leader Chris Tomlin led more than 7,000 gathered in Van Andel Arena in a recitation of Psalm 100.

The willing audience at his Nov. 7 concert was able to read the verses aloud from the giant arena screens, completing a great introduction to Tomlin’s song “Psalm 100.”

There was no sermon or even an extended meditation during the artist’s 15-song, 89 minute presentation. But the scripture in his lyrics provided a warm and hopeful message amidst the worshipful themes.

Opening with “White Flag,” a song from one of the “Passion” albums to which Tomlin has contributed, the confident yet soft-spoken troubadour favored the audience with music from throughout his 15-year national recording career.

During an acoustic set when Tomlin came to the very front of an extended stage, he led the inspiring “Indescribable,” an anthem which lists the attributes of a perfect Creator-God. The medley of “Holy Is The Lord” and “I Will Serve” also reverently rang true.

                             SOME NEWER TOUCHES

Tomlin and his four side-players (featuring long time guitarist Daniel Carson) also treated the audience to several songs from his latest collection, “Love Ran Red.”

A highlight was “At The Cross,” a worship song which proclaimed from the red-lit stage, “When your love ran red and my sin washed white.”

The new tunes “Waterfall” and “Psalm 100” were also covered by the artist.

All of Tomlin’s lyrics as well as images of the performers were projected on the large arena screens. But there was also concept video mixed in as were supportive image/graphics on a video/light board at the rear of the stage.

During “Waterfall,” for example, images of streams of water overlayed the live stage shots reinforcing the metaphor of God’s cascading love.

Tomlin also introduced a just-released song not on the new album, “Good, Good Father.” Members of the opening band Rend Collective joined him adding touches of mandolin and several other instruments.

                           OPEN FOR QUESTIONS

Tomlin even took the step of answering a few questions he selected from texts sent in earlier by audience members.

Tomlin 2 linesThe 43 year-old father of two said his top “go to” Bible passages in tough times were from the Psalms, where many of his song lyrics are derived.

He said the favorite of his albums is his Christmas collection issued six years ago. Tomlin also happens to have a brand new Christmas project (“Adore”) from which his band then performed the original “He Shall Reign Forevermore.”

One of the questioners was identified as Clayton Lubbers, a science teacher at Byron Center Christian School, which had a number of cheering students on hand.

Tomlin also shared about his wife and two young daughters, one of whom he had “face-timed” earlier in the day. “Help, I live in a house full of women,” quipped the artist who grew up in a home with only brothers.

                             WRAPPING IT UP

The final song in Tomlin’s set was the raucous “God’s Great Dance Floor.” The Martin Smith (Delirious) song is a Passion favorite and an entirely dance-able tune.

“It’s about to get crazy down here,” said Tomlin as he invited those willing to come near the stage forming an impromptu dance floor under the swirling lights and the musical crescendos.
Dozens of folks managed to come forward - though it was tight quarters among the packed chairs on the arena floor.

After the band’s exit, the players re-emerged for an encore of “10,000 Reasons,” a truly uniting moment in an evening that was spiritually both serene and exhilarating.

                 AND STARTING THINGS OFF…

Earlier the Irish-based Rend Collective performed a six-song set leaning on its Christian radio-sing-along worship standards such as “Build Your Kingdom Here” and “My Lighthouse.”

With good humor, energy and passion, the quintet introduced several songs from its latest album, including “You Will Never Run” and their closing “Every Giant Will Fall.”

Percussionist Gareth Gilkeson was able to showcase a rather obscure percussion instrument – the jingling johnny. Confetti shot up from the front of the stage during “Joy of the Lord,” which nicely fits the group’s calling card as a “celebration” band.

Lead singer
Chris Llewellyn promised the crowd that Rend Collective would be coming back to West Michigan next spring, noting they would enjoy another visit to their favorite Grand Rapids coffee stop, Madcap Coffee.   
There were several presentations during the evening seeking support for the Museum of the Bible currently under construction in Washington DC.

Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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