Chris Tomlin’s easy personality came through during his concert Friday at the Wells Fargo Theater. Check out his trip to Wahoo’s on 16th Street Mall on his website. Photos by Eliza Marie Somers
Chris Tomlin wants a key. A key to Colorado that is.
“You don’t know how bad I want to live here,” Tomlin told a crowd at Wells Fargo Theater on Friday. “I want to be the official worship band of Colorado. Maybe I can get a key to the state?”
Tomlin’s enthusiasm for the Centennial State came through in his performace, starting with his roaring rendition of “Sing, Sing, Sing” and ending with his encore with opening band Israel Houghton and New Breed.
In an interview two weeks ago, Tomlin said he gets his reward from writing praise and worship songs for people to sing — “Songs that need to be sung,” and from hearing people sing his songs. But as a journalist, skepticism comes with the territory especially after spending endless hours reading about corporate corruption and greed and the Ted Haggard saga. So I took Tomlin’s comment with a little grain of salt. But after watching him perform you could see how sincere and humble he is. Tomlin just beamed when he would stop singing to listen to the crowd. His smile lit up the stage. It was as if he couldn’t contain himself as he raced up and down the stage.
As one fellow concert-goer said, “I think that set a record for audience participation.”
Tomlin and Israel Houghton encourage the audience to sing-along, with giant TVs streaming the lyrics across the bottom of the screens. You can’t help but participate, even if you can’t carry a note like myself.
Halfway through his set, Tomlin spoke about the foundation he helped start, One Million Can, and related to the audience when he was first putting together the song “Love” he thought he had the next Coca-Cola commericial. “There is love, Love is all around, Everyone drink a Coke,” he said, chuckling. But the song turned into something more when coincidence brought the Watoto Children’s Choir to Nashville when Tomlin was recording the song. And by coincidence the choir had a day off and was able to record the background vocals. And maybe by “coincidence” One Million Can now is helping to create sustainable villages in Uganda. If you believe in heavenly intervention this truly is an example of that.
Tomlin is personable and humble, revealing a dry sense of humor as he made the crowd feel at ease. This is someone you can sit down with and share a pizza and a beer even though he is a superstar in his own right — a Grammy nominee and Dove Award winner. Something I never felt at the many rock shows I’ve attended.
Opening act Israel Houghton and New Breed got things started with a soulful gospel tune. Their music is a mix of soul, rock, jazz — a fusion of sorts.
Houghton, a Grammy Award winner, also was a comfortable presence on stage first by asking the audience if anyone had ever heard of the group. With only a few acknowledgements, he revealed that he has been around the gospel scene for more than 10 years, and went straight into his song “Friend of God.” A tune that has been covered by numerous gospel artists.
Houghton’s easy personality was on display throughout his performance, first telling the audience that “this is an encounter with the Almighty God. A lot of people are going through tough times right now, but He knows your needs.” Houghton opened a serious story of his mother’s redemption with a bit of humor when he said he was “Half-rican American, my mother is white and my father is black.” But his teen-age mother was kicked out of her father’s house when she became pregnant with Israel, then his father left his mom when she was eight months pregnant. She was single mother strung out on drugs. But one day a lady came out of nowhere and told his mother that Jesus loved her and that she was not forgotten. “She had her altar moment right there on the street corner,” Houghton said. “And i believe that I’m here because of that moment. The power of one.” He then challenged the audience to become that power of one and taking it to a higher level. Houghton is also taking on that challenge with the release of his solo project, “Power of One,” in March.
With a show that lasted well past three hours and the bands’ social consciousness, it would be easy for Gov. Bill Ritter to pass along a key to the state to both Tomlin and Houghton.
Chris Tomlin and Israel Houghton during their encore.