Concert Review: Greater Vision (Columbus, OH)
Last night, I saw Greater Vision in Columbus, Ohio. Since I hadn’t seen that date the last time I checked their schedule, a month or two before, I actually found out about it from their newsletter that afternoon and made a last-minute decision to go.
- He’d Still Been God – featuring baritone Rodney Griffin
- You Were Faithful Yesterday – featuring tenor Chris Allman
- There’s Never Been – Griffin
- Better Hurry Up – no solo
- Hallelujah Square – Allman
- My Name is Lazarus – all solos
- It Pays to Pray – Griffin
- A Mighty Fortress – no solo; interestingly, I noted that lead singer Gerald Wolfe doubled the melody in the bass octave at points; either that’s new to their arrangement, or I hadn’t noticed it before
- At this point Gerald Wolfe called up a lady from the audience who had showed him a 1983 Dumplin Valley Boys poster prior to the concert. He showed it to the audience, and pointed out a member of the group at the time with whom he still had lunch most weeks. That member, whose name is presently escaping me, recently had someone bring to him the same picture (though on an album, not a concert poster). After signing the picture, that member looked at the suit he was wearing in that picture, twenty-seven years ago, and realized that he was wearing that very suit!
- He Pilots my Ship – Wolfe
- It is Well – Wolfe – incredibly powerful performance, to which the CD version (on Faces) seems almost sterile. Standing ovation (first of the night, though Allman received prolonged applause after “Hallelujah Square.”)
During intermission, as Wolfe played the offertory, I noticed that he was using both the grand piano’s sustain pedals and organ-style foot pedals. His feet have to be about the busiest in Southern Gospel, with how many times he taps his feet while singing, and evidently they work even harder when he’s at the keys.
- I Want to Know that You Know – Wolfe
- Source of My Song – Allman
- Blessed Assurance – Allman – enthusiastic response
- Far Above the Starry Sky. Wolfe introduced the song by saying that a big ole guy had asked for it, and they didn’t dare not do it, even though they had not sung it for years. He asked the person who had requested it to stand so everyone could see who had asked. Then, after another couple of sentences, Wolfe asked him if he had the group’s original rendition. He said that not only did he have it, he had sung their arrangement. At this point Wolfe – perhaps not entirely serious – said that he ought to come up to sing it with them. He did, and delivered a pretty good performance of the song. The song received a standing ovation; I suspect this was partly due to the Susan Boyle effect, the effect of the completely unexpected being at least decent, particularly with a person who doesn’t look the part (in this case, look like a tenor). Wolfe helped set it up for a big response by commenting that it would either be really bad or really, really good, and by that point, even decent would have gotten a fairly strong response.
- A Pile of Crowns – Griffin. After “Far Above the Starry Sky,” Wolfe actually seemed unsure where to go next, pondering aloud how they could follow that. He ended up going with a slow message song, and the transition worked well.
- Without Jesus – Wolfe
- Without Him – Griffin, setting up the altar call
- Champion of Love – Wolfe. Standing ovation.
I had already heard nearly the entire program live a month or two ago, so I primarily went to hear for myself what Chris Allman would sound like back with the group. (He was the group’s original tenor, and as regular readers here know, he recently returned to the group after a fifteen-year hiatus.) The observation I’ve seen elsewhere that Allman seems as though he’s stepped out of a time warp seems apt; unlike most tenors in their later thirties or forties, he seems to have not lost any of his range or voice quality, hitting even the highest notes with ease and confidence.