Reactions, Reviews & Resolutions

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Last updated: 08 May 96

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Shopping at Home: The Wave of the Future?

Perhaps this is a trend only in the United States where most households have at least one television set and many have cable television with thirty or more channels to choose from. Our cable company offers two channels dedicated to shopping, one of which is the renown QVC. Though we seldom channel surf QVC, we do tune in when there is a Star Trek or Peanuts program featuring large Quantities of "Valuable" Collectibles to choose from. These shopping channels usually have everything from autographed items to pewter statues, all of which come with the requisite "Certificate of Authenticity". We have always wondered (we're not the only ones, are we?), who authenticates the "Certificate of Authenticity"?

As we sit through an hour or three seeing so many collectibles with credit card and membership number in hand, we find ourselves suffering from the Quickly Vanishing Cash syndrome as our fingers speed dial the 1-800 number every time we see another useless necessity.

As a special promotion, many times these shows feature personalities which home shoppers can talk to only after they have dished out their hard earned cash. Often when callers Question the Visiting Celebrities, they seem to believe the celebrity's on-screen persona has suddenly appeared. Several people calling in to talk to William Shatner said things like "I can't believe I'm talking to Captain Kirk." or "Please say hello to Mr. Spock for me."

Is home shopping here to stay? We certainly think so, it seems to be the ultimate Quandray in the Vicious Circle of our 20th century existence. Oh well, at least we can look forward to our credit card company raising our credit card limit as we give it a work out!

PETRA - April 27, 1996

ticket ticket

Sorry folks, two days before the concert we received a letter from
TicketMaster notifying us that the Petra Concert at San Diego State University's Open Air Amphitheater was cancelled and not to be rescheduled. As it turns out, Petra skipped southern California altogether and replaced the San DIego tour stop with Visalia, CA.

This certainly is a big disappointment for us. We finally ordered some decent seats (up front and center in the Pit, no less) where we would not need binoculars and it washes out. Oh well, no sour grapes for us this time though we do have to wonder how long TicketMaster knew about the cancellation and believe they should have sent a refund check to us along with the cancellation letter. On the other hand, we wish Petra the best of luck for the rest of their tour and be sure to check Petra out their Word web site.

Leading Us Home:  An Uplifting Evening With Michael W. Smith

Simply put, this was one of the best concerts we have ever attended ... if we say that the concert began at 8:40, not 7:30. Three Crosses began at 7:30 and ended (thankfully) about fifteen minutes later. Jars of Clay was better (Possibly because one of the guitars was a Taylor??? Naw, no Taylors in Michael's band.), but not by much, and were on stage for about forty minutes. We had never attended a Smitty concert, only Amy Grant concerts where he was an opening act, so we did not know what to expect. We were in for a well produced and highly energetic evening of entertainment.
Michael's entrance, popping out of a small circular revolving stage connected by a forty foot runway to the middle of center stage singing "Cry For Love", about twenty feet from us, was absolutely exhilarating and totally unexpected (at least for me). He continued his extremely energetic performances on the main stage with "Picture Perfect" and "Breakdown". He finally got behind a keyboard (where he belongs) with "Rocketown", "Someday", "I Will Be Here For You", "Give It Away", "Calling Heaven", and "Cross of Gold".
He returned to the revolving showcase, where a Korg digital baby grand piano was conveniently awaiting him, for an acoustic set including "The Other Side of Me", "Straight to the Heart" (a duet with Brent Bourgeois), and "Jesus is the Answer" (harmonies by his backup singers). The final song of this set was "Friends", after which a group of concert goers on the right side of the stage held up a sign reading, "Michael, you touch our hearts."
His final set, back on the main stage, included electrifying performances of "Secret Ambition", "Place in this World", an innovative acappella Bible verse medley, "Crown Him with Many Crowns", "Out of this World", and "Seed to Sow".

Unfortunately, this wonderful concert experience had to come to an end (where did those past two hours go ... it seemed like he barely got on stage when we all were asking for an encore). "I'll Lead You Home" was powerful request to evaluate one's own relationship with God as well as an invitation to walk with Jesus Christ. He continued with this theme as he ended the concert with "I'm Waiting For You." [MORE!]

First Impressions of Michael W. Smith Performs in San Diego's Rimac Arena
on St. Patrick's Day

stubIt has been a long time since we have been to a Christian concert in which the concert performance was as enjoyable as the studio produced CD. As a regular (not avid but as often as we can) concert goer, we feel concerts should offer something above and beyond what one receives when listening over the air waves or on a walkman. This certainly does not mean that all concerts need to be mega-productions. In fact, there is much value in small, intimate solo performances. For some artists, this may even be our preferred listening mode (John Fischer, Michael Card, Scott Wesley Brown). We can even recall some of the early days of a few artists like Michelle Pillar or Lesile Phillips, in which the productions were definitely low budget and intimate. These concerts have some our fondest memories compared to many other, more recent, lavish productions of headliners such as Amy Grant and Sandi Patti.

But certainly as one who appreciates a "live" performance, the Michael W. Smith concert at San Diego's Rimac Arena was a feast for the eyes, ears and soul. This newest San Diego concert facility was a bit smaller than expected, a typical college basketball auditorium in size. Attendance was not quite a sell out (maybe 90%) but the 3,000 or so fans certainly rocked the floor by the middle of the show. Given the fine but less than extravagant surroundings, the $25 floor tickets we had been given seemed a bit over-priced for small foldout seating.

As for "production" value, the show seemed to go all out and we think all would agree that the price was worthwhile (We are sure many of the K-LOVE radio free ticket contest winners would also). Aside from the typical synchonized dynamic light show (no lasers) trapping of a major tour, the performance was integrated with live and pre-recorded video on three side-by-side (which merged as one) background viewing screen(s). Since the music video-like (throughout the whole show, not just for a certain song or two) performance seemed novel to us at a Christian concert, the production side of things were fascinating this first time through.

stubThe live video shots were supported by two cameras, one on a large moveable boom on the left side of the stage and the other with a roving cameraman on and off-stage on the right side (where we were seated). We could not help wondering if some of the fans on the left felt uneasy as the moving boom camera glided very quickly, and deftly in all directions, above their heads. Just watching the moving camera emulate an on-stage operator for close-ups on the left held our interest. By the end of the show we certainly felt sorry for the roving camera operator, as he tried to keep one step ahead of Michael. Compliments should go to him as well since his shots were steady as a rock. [Watching these "dueling" cameras, I wasn't sure whether the roving cameraman was emulating a rock-steady mechanical camera or the mechanical camera was emulating a human operator, moving in and out to capture all the right camera angles.]

Video production was only half the story however. Michael began the show by popping out of a small circular revolving stage connected by a 40 ft. runway to the middle of center stage. As Michael completed the opening number, "Cry For Love", he stepped off the circular stage and headed down the runway, pacing footsteps, but never quite reaching center stage because of the runway's built-in 20 ft. treadmill. Later in the show, his Korg digital baby grand piano also popped out of the revolving showcase (before that, at the end of "Breakdown", a 5 ft. flag pole was sucked down into the middle of the showcase floor).

This revolving showcase served as an audience close-up (we were less than 20 ft. from Michael when he was on this extension), throughout the show. He performed several songs solo with only his piano as accompaniment. During "Straight to the Heart", Brent Bourgeois exhibited his accordian prowess on the stage's skirt, as Smitty (Forrest) Gump-ed one-liners.

For those of you out in the cyberspace, we've heard that this is a 60 city tour. We would be grateful to anyone who could point us to a listing of the tour schedule. It seems the stop before San Diego was San Jose but what stop was San Diego's ?

Visit a MWS site: MWS Site.   Download a b/w photo of Michael: GIF file, 23KB.

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Copyright 1996 M. E. Barr & W. W. Barr

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