Last Friday night, my church hosted the Kingsmen in concert. The crowd size was a little disappointing, but with a big high school football game that night, I wasn’t too surprised. I would guess the crowd to have been around 200 strong. Despite the crowd being a bit down, the Kingsmen showed no lack of energy when they hit the stage.
- Inside The Gate
- Loving Shepherd, Gracious God
- After The Sunrise
- When I Wake Up To Sleep No More
- Missing People
- What A Day That Will Be
- He’s Everything I Need
- That’s When I Knew It Was Him
- Instrumental (a piano solo by a young man named Andrew Flower, who was in attendance)
- Traveling Home
- I Owe It All To Him
- I Can Hardly Wait
- Healin’ Stream
- Getcha To The Other Side
- Glory Road
- When God Ran
- Invitation (I Surrender All)
First let me say that Randy Crawford was very sick, and could barely talk, much less sing. Other than a couple of pickup lines on “Glory Road”, about all he was good for was adding in the baritone notes on the end of songs and a little bit in the trio section of “Loving Shepherd”. Big time kudos to Randy for giving literally everything he had. He couldn’t talk very loudly before the concert, and afterwards he could barely whisper, but he did his best, the sign of a true professional. Hope you recover quickly, Randy! Reviews of the newest Kingsmen album, Grace Says (including the one upcoming on this site), have all pointed to “Loving Shepherd, Gracious God” as a highlight due to Ray Reese’s touching vocal solo on the second verse. As good as it is on disc, it’s even better live. Ray has always been a great communicator at the bass spot. He may not have the smoothest or lowest voice, but few singers connect with the message of a song or the crowd at a concert better than Ray Dean Reese.
“After The Sunrise” is also a cut from the new album, and it’s a great one in concert. It’s classic Kingsmen “three chords and a cloud of dust” that goes over extremely well. It was also neat to hear “Missing People” live, during the break towards the end where the studio version has different voices speaking, those recitations are not on the track and Bryan Hutson speaks live. I had wondered how they would pull that off in concert. “He’s Everything I Need” is a Joseph Habedank penned tune and is there latest single. See “After The Sunrise” commentary. The first half closed out with Harold Reed singing “That’s When I Knew It Was Him.” If you liked “God Saw A Cross” on their last album, you’ll like this one as well. Harold did a fine job on it.
After the intermission, Bryan and Ray gave a product pitch then asked a young man in attendance, named Andrew Flower, to come on stage and play a piano solo. He’s a student at Bethel University (where Matthew Holt teaches), and can flat out play piano. He’s a friend of a friend of the group, and he did a great job playing. The second half was primarily made up of Kingsmen classics. “Traveling Home” started off with some great energy. Bryan then dedicated “I Owe It All To Him” to the memory of Jim Hamill. While this was one of Big Jim’s signature songs, Bryan Hutson absolutely drilled the song. It’s a bit of an obscure tune these days, but it’s a great song that Bryan really does justice. Ray Reese does a great job on “Healin’ Stream,” and apparently my 7 month old loves that song, because once it started she began bouncing up and down on her mommy’s lap, which nearly caused Harold Reed to bust out laughing. Funny moment. “Getcha To The Other Side” was a pleasant surprise, as I’d not heard reports of it being on their set list. Also, Harold told me after the concert that it was the first time they had performed “I Can Hardly Wait” live. If that’s the case, they need to keep it on the set list. It’s another great uptempo song.
Let me say also a few words about Harold Reed. When he joined the Kingsmen, there was a lot of debate about whether he could be a “Kingsmen tenor” or not. I’d been fairly impressed with his performances on CD, but he did a great job live as well. In listening to their recordings I’d wondered about his power in his upper range, but those concerns were put to rest Friday night. While Reed was a solid tenor with the DMB, in the middle of the concert I leaned over to my dad and mentioned how much he’d improved since then, and he wholeheartedly agreed with me. Harold Reed IS a Kingsmen tenor.
Members of the Kingsmen typically have a certain song they become known for. With Jim Hamill it was “Love Lifted Me”, Wayne Maynard had “Child Child”, Tim Surrett had “Wish You Were Here”, Jerry Martin had “Look For Me At Jesus’ Feet”, Squire Parsons had “The Lovely Name Of Jesus.” For Bryan Hutson, that song is undoubtedly “When God Ran.” That song was just written for Bryan’s voice. He sings it with such conviction, feeling, and power that if it doesn’t stir you, you need to check yourself out. I was glad to see it still on their set list, and I personally hope it stays there indefinitely.
Lastly, let me talk about a thrill of a lifetime. After I finished playing the offertory, and as Ray was getting ready to start his product pitch, Bryan came and sat beside me and leaned over and asked me if I knew how to play “Glory Road.” I told him I did, and he said he’d bring me on stage to play it for them. So right before “When God Ran”, Bryan did just that. You’ll see a couple of pictures of it below that were taken by our church’s Ministry Assistant. (Thanks Donna!) It was an absolute thrill, and I’m going to hold Bryan to getting to play a couple for them the next time they are at Faith! Seriously, thanks for the opportunity guys, you don’t know how much that meant.
The Kingsmen have been flying a bit under the radar lately, at least since “When God Ran” was released, but they are definitely alive and well. I’ve always considered the lineup with Jerry Martin, Bryan Hutson, and Parker Jonathan to be the most vocally talented lineup the group has seen, but their current lineup absolutely rivals that late 90s group. Coupled with the release of a very strong CD (review coming soon, I promise!), the Kingsmen are poised to return to the top of the quartet world. If you have a chance to go see them, please do! I can guarantee you a night of great singing, high energy, and moving lyrics. Thanks for stopping by to sing guys!