Concert Review: Signature Sound (Willoughby Hills, OH)
On Thursday, I had the chance to see Signature Sound live in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. As I mentioned here, making it on time was a tight endeavor, but I pulled in at 6:48 for the 7:00 concert. It was a general admission concert, so that meant sitting in the middle of the back row, but the sound quality tends to be best toward the back of the room, so that wasn’t a bad thing.
- The Bible Told Me So. This featured new lead singer Devin McGlamery; he sounded great with the group. His job prior to joining Karen Peck & New River was singing lead for Ed O’Neal’s Dixie Melody Boys, and he’s getting back into his old groove smoothly.
- Glory to God in the Highest. This got Signature Sound their first standing ovation of the night. (How often does a group get a standing ovation two songs into their set?)
- Who’ll be a Witness. This featured Tim Duncan, who was as good as I’ve ever heard him.
- Reason Enough. Laid back and classy, like the studio version.
- Changed By a Baby Boy. I predict that people will ultimately think of this as Devin McGlamery’s song, even though Ryan Seaton was on the original rendition. He was on fire with this one.
- It’s My Desire. Devin got a strong reaction with this song, as well.
- Let it Go. This was a spiritual featuring Tim Duncan.
- Thank God For Kids. This was baritone Doug Anderson’s first big feature of the night. The group chose the relaxed, sitting-on-stools staging for this song, and it worked.
- Band Intros: Signature Sound had a four-piece band, partially because pianist Wayne Haun had to be out the next day. (He was conducting the orchestra for the Collingsworth Family’s video taping in Flint, Michigan last night.) So renowned studio pianist Tracey Phillips was along for the weekend. It was the first night they’d ever had a lady performing in their band, and she did not disappoint. She alternated with Wayne on piano and keyboards through the night. Zach Schumate was playing drums, and David Griffith was playing bass guitar.
- Wonderful Grace of Jesus. Wayne Haun came out from behind the piano to join Signature Sound for a five-part rendition. The song had a more full sound, particularly in the baritone/lead area.
- Climbing Higher and Higher. At this point, Signature Sound switched to two-microphones for a portion of their set.
- Old Fashioned Love. Ernie Haase introduced the song by honoring a couple celebrating their fiftieth anniversary at the concert that night. Also notable was his kazoo solo (which got an enthusiastic response).
- Swinging on the Golden Gate. Doug Anderson took the primary lead on this old spiritual.
- Since Jesus Passed By. Tim Duncan has been singing this song for a year or two, and never fails to get a strong response. It’s a nice, mellow arrangement that simply works.
- It’s Good to see the Sun. I actually hadn’t realized this was a new song until Ernie Haase mentioned that it was new but sounded old.
- Then Came the Morning. Standing ovation.
- The Old Landmark. Another standing ovation.
At intermission, I taped the interview with Ernie Haase that went up yesterday.
The second set:
- Love is Like a River. Devin McGlamery did a surprisingly strong performance on Marshall Hall’s solo.
- Swing Down Chariot.
- Old Convention Song. Ernie mentioned from the stage at this point that they were getting ready for a Cathedrals project / video taping, and this was going to be one of the songs they included.
- That’s How Rhythm was Born. I’m honestly not sure if this song (from Influenced 2) is an old spiritual I hadn’t been familiar with, or a new song that sounds old.
- Get Away Jordan. Standing ovation. Signature Sound doesn’t do a huge amount of choreography anymore, but there was some on this song. Devin had the moves down.
- Until We Fly Away. This featured Doug Anderson.
- Going Home. This featured Devin McGlamery.
- Reason Enough encore. Wayne Haun sang some of the lead lines.
- Oh What a Savior. Ernie Haase delivered his predictably powerful rendition. Many tenors sing the song, and interject some power and feeling. But Haase’s rendition is different in a way that’s difficult to capture in writing. There is a certain confidence and intimate familiarity with the lyric and melody that comes from singing the song nightly for two decades that other renditions cannot quite capture.
- Old Landmark encore.
Every time I have seen Signature Sound, they have delivered an excellent live show. But the live band took the show to an entirely new level. Yes, there were a few soundtracks here and there, but most of the program featured the live band either predominantly or by itself.
I frequently see discussions of Southern Gospel fans wishing the live band would return. For those of you who have been part of those discussions, go out and buy a ticket to see Signature Sound on this tour. Even if they aren’t your #1 favorite group, encourage other groups to bring the live band back by making this tour a success.
No, nobody paid me to say that! I want to see live bands come back as much as anyone, so I just put my money where my mouth is by buying a ticket and going out to see Thursday’s concert.