Concert Review: Gold City

Last Friday night, my church hosted Gold City (did I just type those words??) in concert.  Though the appearance was only booked two weeks in advance, the church was basically full, with some people sitting in chairs we brought out.  The crowd was estimated to be around 400.  Here is Gold City’s set list for the night:

  • Where Is God
  • By Your Grace, For Your Glory
  • I Cast My Bread
  • It Won’t Be Long
  • He’s Still On The Throne
  • God’s Building A Church
  • Oh What A Savior
  • I’m Rich
  • Shoutin’ Ground
  • Keep On The Firing Line (Piano instrumental)
  • I Can Tell You The Time
  • Under Control
  • Truth Is Marching On

Intermission

  • We’ll Soon Be Done With Troubles And Trials
  • When I Get Carried Away
  • I’m Not Giving Up
  • In My Robe Of White
  • Midnight Cry

There has been a great deal of talk and skepticism surrounding Gold City for the last few years.  Multiple personnel changes and the lack of new music from the group since 2008’s Moment Of Truth have fostered a lot of questioning of if the group was on life support.  After hearing them in concert Friday night, let me assure you that Gold City is alive and well!  Someone made a comment on my Facebook account about remembering when there was something almost magical about seeing Gold City in concert.  I remember those days well, and the magic is most assuredly still there.  The group hit the ground running with “Where Is God”, from the iconic Pillars of Faith project and didn’t look back the rest of the night.  They were well connected to the crowd, their performances were thrilling, the blend was incredibly tight, and the group was just on point.  Since much has been made over the personnel/lineup changes that Gold City has experienced, let’s do a quick rundown of thoughts on each member from the concert.

Bryan Elliott:  Bryan played an incredibly fast arrangement of “Keep On The Firing Line” that left the piano players in the audience with their mouths agape.  When featured, he’s got the talent to really wow a crowd, but even better is the fact that he knows how to play in a way that complements the vocals, instead of stepping over them.  He fits in well and does a great job on the piano.

Tim Riley:  Tim had a great night.  In response to some comments I’d seen, I was paying close attention to his vocals, and he didn’t miss a single note.  Tim still has that legendary cut and clarity to his voice that other bass singers dream about having.  I think he may have missed a lyric or two, but he was rattling the walls and thrilling the audience like he’s done every night with Gold City for 30+ years now.  Tim Riley is still the best bass singer in Southern Gospel music, bar none, and he’s still one of my SG heroes.

Daniel Riley:  Daniel has taken over the lion’s share of the emcee duties from his dad, though Tim still does some as well.  He has the dry wit and self-deprecating style that makes an emcee entertaining and keeps the concert flowing.  As a baritone vocalist, Daniel is top-notch.  He has smoothness, range, and style that people tend to forget about when they are focusing on his duties as the manager of the group.  Daniel also sang with some lighter tones that I’d not noticed before that really helped to keep the blend together.  I had a chance for a long conversation with him after the concert was over, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for Daniel Riley.  The guy has taken a lot of heat over the past few years, but his heart is in the right place and he’s very optimistic for the group’s future.

Craig West:  It’s no wonder Daniel is so optimistic when talking about the future of the group.  In Craig West, he’s got potentially the best lead singer that Gold City has ever had.  Yes I know, Ivan Parker, David Hill, Jonathan Wilburn.  Believe me when I tell you that Craig is every bit as good as any of those fantastic singers.  He has power, he has range, he has style, and he has an incredible voice.  Craig West is the complete package as a lead singer.  He killed both Wilburn’s features like “He’s Still On The Throne” and “I’m Rich” (which I’ve never been too fond of, but WOW you have to hear Craig tear into this!), and his “Midnight Cry” really defies description.  There are several YouTube videos of him singing it, but trust me, a video in no way does it justice.  Mark my words, Craig West will leave an indelible mark on SG music.

Dan Keeton:  It’s well known that when Jay Parrack left Gold City several years ago, Dan filled in with the group for a while and was a candidate for the vacancy that eventually went to Steve Ladd.  Things always happen in the right timing.  Here we are about 7 years later, and Dan now has that tenor position all to his own.  I’d heard him with the Dixie Melody Boys, and very nearly sang in a trio with him back in the mid 90s.  While he was a good tenor then, he has improved greatly since.  Dan is more of a traditional quartet tenor in the vein of Brian Free or Jay Parrack, rather than an edgy tenor like Steve Ladd or Josh Cobb.  That tends to make him sound better on the older material versus the newer material, but Dan has a nice tenor voice with plenty of range.  I was very pleasantly surprised by just how good he sounds with the group, and I think the SG world at large will be shocked when he gets some material that is his own to sing with them.  Gold City has found the stability at tenor they’ve needed since Ladd left, and that will go a long way towards reestablishing the group as one of the top artists in the industry.  Make no mistake, Dan Keeton IS a Gold City quality tenor.

I first saw Gold City in concert as a 6 year old in 1983 at Coonskin Park in Charleston, WV.  I saw the Pillars era group with Free, Parker, and Lacey several times.  I saw the second supergroup with Parrack, Wilburn, and Trammell numerous times.  Believe me, Gold City is just as good in concert now as they were then.  My dad has made the statement several times since Friday night that he’s never heard “Midnight Cry” sound any better than it did last weekend.  To a man, the guys are incredibly excited about the new album, which is getting very close to being ready to release.  Craig West dropped a little nugget to me that once it is done, they will begin working on a “Gold City 80s” themed CD, and one of the songs on it will be the classic “After I Bow.”  As I said in a Twitter and Facebook post, reports of Gold City’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  Do not miss a chance to see them in concert, it is still an amazing experience.  Thanks for stopping by to sing guys, we would LOVE to have you back!

Photos:

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About Wes Burke
I'm a .NET developer and Southern Gospel music fan. Married with a wonderful family.

7 Responses to Concert Review: Gold City

  1. There are reasons why Daniel has taken some heat, but of late I have only sympathy for him. I want the group to pull ahead and make some good music. Craig West has been a tremendous find. Thanks for this review.

    • Wes Burke says:

      Yes, there are reasons, some of which have been justified, but most haven’t. Talking to him, he comes across as someone who has come through a terribly trying time and is looking forward to brighter days ahead. I really feel for him, he seemingly hasn’t been able to catch a break since his brother passed. They all kept pointing to this new album as being a major milestone, so we will see. He did promise me a review copy. 🙂

  2. Diana says:

    This is a great review that I can totally agree with from having seen these gentlemen just over a month ago!

  3. spiderchocolate says:

    I heard them back in March with Brent. they really kicked some tail then. I’ll definitely be buying their new CD as soon as it comes out.

  4. Keith Waggoner says:

    We worked with them in July at the Canadian Gospel Music Celebration and I’m here to tell you they were incredible! This is the best group they’ve had in quite a while. I agree with you about Craig. That guy hits some crazy high notes! I was very impressed. Dan Keeton is one of the few guys in SG that can hit the same notes Jay Parrack hit. It was so nice to hear songs like “God’s Building a Church” again. These guys are for real.

  5. BAS says:

    Last night we saw Gold City in concert with the LeFevre Quartet at West Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. The concert was a benefit for the local Southen Gospel Music radio station. The concert was well-done. Both groups have a quality sound, good blend, and quality songs about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the joy of being a believer. It was so encouraging to hear Tim Riley!

    The LeFevre Quartet did a small part acappella. The tight blend was quite good. Both groups were very good. Thank you for putting on such a good concert!

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