Saturday night, my wife and I were privileged to attend a concert by the Booth Brothers at Second Baptist Church in Union City, TN. The venue was an absolutely beautiful facility that had plenty of seating. I would estimate the crowd at somewhere in the 350-400 range. After the church’s music minister led the congregation in a medley of some familiar hymns, they wasted no time in bringing out the Booth Brothers. Here is their set list for the night:
- He’s So Good To Me
- I See Grace
- Masterpiece of Mercy
- I’ve Never Been Out of His Care
- Welcome To The Family
- In Christ Alone
- Hymn Medley: Wonderful Peace/Old Rugged Cross/How Great Thou Art
- Bread Upon The Water
- Don’t Hang Your Head and Cry
- I’m The Lamb
- All Over The World
- She Still Remembers Jesus’ Name
- When You Bow At Jesus’ Feet
- See What A Morning
- Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet
- He Saw It All
- Since Jesus Came
- I’m Feelin’ Fine
- What About Now?
- We Believe
- Truth Is Marching On
“He’s So Good To Me” is a great upbeat concert starter, and following it up with the tremendous “I See Grace” makes for a great 1-2 punch. When we did our mega-review of Declaration, we all pointed to that song as a highlight, and it continues to be so in concert. Jim Brady really delivers the song’s powerful message well. Michael Booth does an incredible job singing “I’ve Never Been Out Of His Care”, which is an old Stamps Quartet song featuring Bill Baize from 1973′s Leaning On The Arms Of Jesus. A funny thing about this song though, is that until my wife looked at my set list on my iPad, she thought they were singing “I’ve never been out of His hair…” Talk about misheard lyrics!
The group paces the concert well, with Michael handling the large majority of the emcee work. After the upbeat “Welcome To The Family”, they slowed things down with an acappella hymn medley. Of course, the minute they finish the last note of “How Great Thou Art”, the brass and guitars kick in on their new version of the classic by the Imperials, “Bread Upon The Water.” I’ll say more about this song when I do the review coming up soon, but only the Booths can pull off such a wide transition between styles. Michael Booth has referred to their recordings, especially the new one as schizophrenic with all the different styles, but it’s a testament to them that they pull all the disparate styles off expertly. Adding to the psychosis, shall we say, is their popular Southern Gospel Samba (I’m taking credit for this one, I coined this phrase on the mega-review of Declaration. You’re welcome, Michael!), “All Over The World.” This one exudes high energy, and the crowd was on its feet by the end.
“She Still Remembers Jesus’ Name” is a sweet, tender song, and it comes across even more so in concert when Michael shares about his and Ronnie’s grandmother who suffered from dementia and the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s before she passed away. The point is made that they typically try to choose songs that are universal in application, but this song makes such a strong statement about the issue of dementia, and hit so close to home for them, that they made an exception with this song. Ronnie really has the voice to convey a powerful message, and he does a great job with this song. “See What A Morning” concluded the first half with the crowd again on their feet.
After a short intermission, the group (eventually) made their way back on stage. Michael proceeded to wow the audience with “Look For Me”, Ronnie got them standing again with “He Saw It All”, and then the group did a bit of a tribute to the Mills Brothers with their new song “Since Jesus Came.” They performed the song with two mics, the way the Mills Brothers used to perform. It all added up to a great concert highlight, and then ratcheted the intensity way up with the classic “I’m Feelin’ Fine.”
“What About Now” is a ballad on their new release, and there will be plenty to say about it in the review. I’m sure I will say it again then, but this song has some of the most in your face, challenging lyrics that may have ever been recorded in Southern Gospel. After this song, with the mood turned quietly introspective, Michael shares a 10 minute or so “sermonette” that clearly presents a complete synopsis of the Gospel and salvation. To counter the crowd that says they didn’t pay to hear preaching, Michael glibly replies “This part is FREE!” At this point, Ronnie and Jim left the stage.
When Michael finished, the track kicked off to “We Believe”, and the order of solos that we discussed in the mega review began to make more sense. Michael sang the first verse. Jim then entered the stage singing his verse, and Ronnie did the same for the third. After this song, they tried to dismiss the concert, but the promoter asked that they sing “Truth Is Marching On.” Even though they didn’t record the song, they perform it extremely well and really ended the concert strongly.
The Booth Brothers have been riding atop the SG industry for several years now, and I learned why with this concert. Michael does a great job as the emcee, balancing his zany sense of humor with an unexpected depth when the time calls for it. I’ve been a big fan of Jim Brady’s writing and singing for a while now, and had that reinforced Saturday night. His songwriting is top notch, and he’s a fine singer as well. Oh, and thanks for the anniversary gift, Jim! We did enjoy it! Ronnie Booth has an incredibly smooth, pleasing lead voice that just simply oozes pathos and raw emotion. He also plays the straight man to his brother’s comedy very well. You’d think they’d been doing it all their lives or something! I really enjoyed getting a chance to talk with both Michael and Jim for a while after the concert, and along those lines be looking for a surprise in the near future.
The bottom line is this: the Booth Brothers are the cream of the crop in Southern Gospel today, and their concert experience just simply provides more evidence to that fact. They’ve been named Artist of the Year the last two years, I believe, in the Singing News Fan Awards, and it’s an honor that is well deserved. I fully expect them to win it again this year, and for good reason. Do not miss them if they are in your area, you just won’t find a concert experience any greater than the Booth Brothers!