Concert Review: Mercy’s Mark 2.0
Last Saturday, I drove down to Columbus, Ohio to see Mercy’s Mark at Garry Jones’ home church, Potter’s House Church of God. About 300 people attended, with approximately 31 of them being 25 and under.
The Pfeifers opened the concert with a seven-song set. After the Pfeifers were introduced, Mary Jane Carter and Candy Pfeifer walked toward the stage, but John Pfeifer was nowhere to be seen. This was quickly explained when a trumpet sounded from the back of the auditorium. John entered from the back, playing several of bars of music to introduce their first song, “Wake up the House.”
The highlight of their set was “Fighting On,” featuring Mary Jane Carter and a video presentation that included clips of the group members’ parents. The brass instruments were also very well done.
The sound was seemingly twice as loud as during Mercy’s Mark’s set. Of course, the brass instruments were loud, but I refer primarily to the soundtracks. I debated whether to say even that much, but since members of some groups read this blog, I thought I’d offer this observation: If the fans say the music is too loud, it probably is.
Mercy’s Mark performed a ten-song set; there was no intermission. They opened with three songs before group introductions. They performed “Where is God” (featuring Shane Dunlap) from their Southern Selections CDs and “Prayer Will Take Heaven By Storm” (featuring Garry Jones) and “When it All Starts Happening” from Something’s Happening.
After introducing bass singer Christian Davis, they featured him on “God of Second Chances.” Shane Dunlap sang “All I Need To Know”; both of these songs also came from their most recent CD, Something’s Happening.
Jones then said that they were going to do a classic quartet-style song in honor of the church’s seniors pastor, who was back for the first time since a multiple bypass surgery several weeks before. “Movin’ Up to Gloryland” was one of the highlights of their set. Interestingly, I don’t know how much of this was for real, but Shane Dunlap appeared to be completely at home with this song and several others. In fact, on this particular song the group seemed to be even more energetic than when I saw them a few months ago in Shelby. Perhaps it was Dunlap’s time with Signature Sound showing through, and perhaps it was just that the group has been doing the song for longer now.
Garry Jones introduced “I’m On the Battlefield” by saying that the groups that made him want to sing Gospel Music were black Gospel groups like Andrae Crouch and the Disciples. He said that “I’m On the Battlefield” was a Blind Boys of Alabama song, and proceeded to play a black Gospel introduction. Shane Dunlap and Christian Davis did some humming in a way like black singers sometimes do during introductions; Davis’s humming was particularly well received, in part because he surprised the audience by going as high as a high G above middle C. (Yes, I asked what note it was. I don’t have perfect pitch, and guessed it was somewhere around A, but didn’t know precisely.)
The concert closed with three ballads, Shane Dunlap on “Had it Not Been,” tenor Brent Mitchell on “He Loves Me,” and Dunlap on “Midnight Cry.”
“Midnight Cry” has been recorded so many times that I have just had this feeling that what I’ve heard hasn’t captured the song’s original grandeur. But Garry Jones, who had a hand in making the song the classic it’s become, knows how to do it right, and this rendition brought the audience to its feet before the song ended. For the first time last night, I felt that I finally heard what Gold City’s fans originally heard in the song–why those who heard the song then consider it a classic.
Several of this blog’s readers have been wondering what I thought of Shane Dunlap’s sound with Mercy’s Mark. He blended well, and would make a good permanent addition to the group, musically at least.
The original Mercy’s Mark–Anthony Facello, Josh Feemster, Garry Jones, and Chris West–had an excellent group blend, a distinctive sound, and overall left a memorable though all-too-brief mark on the genre. Anthony was the first to go, I believe, and was replaced by Brent Mitchell; Chris left next, and was replaced by Christian Davis. (I saw this lineup the last time I saw the group.) Josh Feemster left a few weeks ago, and Shane Dunlap is filling in.
With Feemster’s departure, the entire original lineup (except for manager Garry Jones) has left, and what I saw last time was an entirely new lineup. Last night, I concluded that the interim lineups were transitional for the group, and that if they keep Dunlap this will be Mercy’s Mark 2.0.