Concert Review: Mercy’s Mark Quartet
Last night, I saw Mercy’s Mark Quartet live in Shelby, Ohio. About 150 people were in attendance. From what I had read of previous Mercy’s Mark concerts (and from hearing their albums), I wasn’t too sure how sure their progressive songs would go over with this mostly older audience, most of whom had not heard the group before.
Fortunately, they decided to start off with three traditional Southern Gospel songs. The first two, “Something About That Name” and “Plan of Salvation,” were done with just piano and vocals. Christian Davis was featured on “Plan of Salvation,” which was received as well as any other song that evening. Though there were no standing ovations, based on the level of applause, this would probably have been one of the songs to get one had there been a more energetic audience.
The third traditional song was “This Jordan,” from their debut project. Hearing Christian Davis’s seemingly bottomless bass range on this song is something that cannot be described and simply has to be experienced. A bridge features “Roll on Jordan” in the key of A, and Christian sings it an octave below where many Southern Gospel bass singers would sing it–and does it with confidence and makes it look easy.
I mentioned at the start of this review that I was uncertain how well the audience would receive progressive songs from Mercy’s Mark’s current project. After these three songs, I decided that the group could sing anything they wanted and have it go over well.
That is exactly what happened; a progressive arrangement of the traditional song “When it All Starts Happening” featuring all four members and the progressive song “God of Second Chances” were both received very well. Now I’ve judged audiences wrong before, but I think the songs wouldn’t have gone over half as well if they’d started with these songs. But after they had established a rapport with the audience, and been accepted as a genuine (and good) Southern Gospel quartet, then the audience could accept these songs.
They sang one more song with soundtracks, “All I Need to Know,” before pianist/baritone Garry Jones went back to the piano for several more piano-and-vocals classic quartet songs, “Movin’ Up to Gloryland,” “Standing By the River,” and “No One Ever Cared So Much for Me.”
I was talking with a few of the group members (not Garry) beforehand, and they mentioned that they were doing “Standing By the River.” I asked if it was the Cathedrals song, or the “Standing By the River / waiting for the boatman” song. They said it was the latter. But none of us–myself included–could remember who had written it with certainty. Someone mentioned LeeRoy Abernathy. I said I thought Albert Brumley might have written it. Well, I was half-right. Brumley co-wrote the song with Marion Easterling.
Tenor Brent Mitchell cites Danny Funderburk as one of his heroes, and Funderburk’s influence was evident in Mitchell’s rendition of “Somebody Touched Me.”
Lead singer Josh Feemster closed the first half with the group’s recent radio single, “Something’s Happening.”
The quartet sang four songs after the intermission: “Anytime,” “I’m on the Battlefield,” “Midnight Cry,” and “I’m Too Near Home.” Lead singer Josh Feemster had the solo on the first three, and Brent Mitchell was featured on the final song.Garry Jones surprised me by mentioning me (and this blog) from the stage. I did introduce myself beforehand, so I wasn’t as surprised as I would have been had he mentioned me if I had come anonymously and slipped in the back, but it was still quite a (nice) surprise.
After a closing prayer, during which the rest of the group left the stage, Garry led the audience in singing “What a Day” and “Because He Lives.”