Concert Review: The Perrys (Reynoldsburg, OH)
On Saturday, I had the chance to see the Perrys in Reynoldsburg, OH. The concert was at a fairly small church in Reynoldsburg, a Columbus suburb. The church could seat about 200-225, but 296 people were present.
It was tight, but the enthusiasm level was high. How many times have you arrived 45 minutes early for a Southern Gospel concert and gotten to choose any of the last 4 or 5 parking spaces you wanted? The church brings in several Southern Gospel groups every year, and the pastor said he had gotten more calls about this concert than any other (at least in recent memory). Presumably based on expectations from attendance at other concerts, the church and the Perrys had put sound equipment in the choir loft, several volunteers had to clear it out at the last minute.
Here’s a song list, with some brief comments. I’ll put more detailed comments below:
- Gentle Shepherd (Tracy Stuffle).
- Every Question Will Be Answered. Standing ovation.
- I Know it Was the Blood. Standing ovation—audience remained standing after the last song and stood throughout this one.
- I Am the Water (Joseph Habedank).
- He Will Hide Me (baritone Nick Trammell and Joseph Habedank). Standing ovation.
- Come and Get Me (no solo).
- I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now (Joseph Habedank).
- Keep on the Firing Line (pianist Bryan Elliott). Standing ovation.
- The Potter Knows the Clay (Libbi Perry Stuffle).
- Holy Shore (Joseph Habedank and Libbi Perry Stuffle). Standing ovation.
At intermission, Bryan Elliott played “Mansion Over the Hilltop,” in an arrangement fancy enough that for a good number of bars I thought it was the old convention classic “I’ve Never Been Sorry.” Though an offering was taken at intermission, there was no chance to go to the product table; instead, the church’s pastor spoke for several minutes, giving announcements and encouraging people to visit the church.
- Jesus Opened Up the Way – with a chorus done in the shape notes.
- He Forgot (Joseph Habedank).
- The Chainsaw (Tracy Stuffle). It had apparently been a while since Tracy Stuffle had done the chainsaw, and he kept cracking up (along with the other members in the group). It was only after several tries that he was able to keep his composure long enough to pull it off.
- All is Well (Nick Trammell).
- God Walks the Dark Hills (Libbi Stuffle). Partial standing ovation.
- Grip of Grace (Joseph Habedank). Standing ovation.
- I Rest My Case at the Cross. Standing ovation.
- I Wish I Coulda Been There (Joseph Habedank). Standing ovation.
This is the fourth time I’ve seen the Perrys with this vocal lineup—two NQCs and two individual concerts—and they have improved each time. Loren Harris left some big shoes to fill; though Joseph Habedank was competent from the start, he has steadily grown as a lead singer. From the start, I have preferred his placement and voice quality to Loren Harris’s. But his range and command have consistently been growing.
The song where this was most evident was “I Rest My Case at the Cross.” The bridge is a challenging passage with a number of high A-flats, a note several steps beyond the range of many lead singers. Loren Harris had an incredible range and handled it with ease. When I saw the Perrys a year ago, Joseph sang a slightly altered melody to eliminate all except the one or two most crucial high notes. This time, he sang the bridge much as Loren Harris was known for, hitting the repeated A-flats with a confidence rarely seen in singers his age.
Nick Trammell has also shown growth in the baritone position—his delivery, even of the same songs the Perrys sang a year ago, is noticably more confident.
Bryan Elliott is doing quite well. Though his style is somewhat different than previous pianist Matthew Holt’s, his onstage energy is a nice complement to the Perrys’ power vocals.