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Live in Concert

Westside Baptist Church
Jacksonville, FL
February 6, 1999

Concert Review
by RL Williams
     On the center stage of the church auditorium there was a piano, two guitars, and an electronic keyboard, in front of a simple white draped backdrop reflecting green and white stage lights. A simple set not representative of the concert to come.

     From the beginning it seemed this concert was going to be different. Promptly at 7PM, Michael entered the back of the auditorium and walked down the center aisle, stopping several times to greet and talk to children and other fans. A sharp contrast to other concerts I have seen. This unique and friendly "stage-side manner" would continue throughout the night.

     Audience participation began with the first songs. Michael alternated between old favorites and songs from his latest album, Grammy-nominated Live the Life. Especially memorable were the performances of Love Me Good, Live the Life, and Hello, Goodbye. Michael also switched back and forth between musician and storyteller, relating stories to many of the songs played. Some stories were funny, some were sad, but all were inspiring and uplifting.

     Other songs played included Go West Young Man, Missing Person, Breathe In Me, Secret Ambition, the eternal Friends, and even a track from his new ChristmasTime album. A set of song snippets included a song from each album starting with his earliest ones and then preceding forward in time.

     One thing that amazed me was the fact that he was doing this concert all alone...no other band members and no other fancy special effects other than multi-colored lights. And no intermissions or breaks. What was great about this was there were no distractions from his extraordinary piano and vocal skills.

     The concert closed with Michael performing I See You, a song by and a tribute to the late Rich Mullins. A simple yet wonderful and inspiring musical treat.

     This was the first time I have seen Michael W. Smith live in concert and this was one of the best concerts I have been to. Even more amazing is the fact that it was somewhat impromptu as to which songs were selected for play. Maybe it was the relaxed atmosphere and the small auditorium setting that helped make this a great concert. Or maybe it was Michael's unparalleled "stage-side manner", or his vocal and piano skills...probably it was all of them together. This one was a five-out-of-five! *****
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