Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Concert Review: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve Tour, Hartford, CT

We are back in the office after an exciting weekend. For me anyway. I traveled to the Big City of Hartford, about an hour away. Big is a relative term, however. A lot of New England is big compared to my small town. The occasion was the Ghosts of Christmas Eve Tour at the XL Center. For the uninformed that is the title of the current Christmas Tour of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Though I don't want it to be, it is one of those Once in a lifetime opportunities.

First, the negatives. Hartford is a mess of a city. And Google maps turned what should have been a 5 minute scoot turned into a half hour lost journey because Google says staying on 44. The venue was unprepared for a sold out crowd because people herding was poor. And everyone got patted down. Fortunately I got seated soon after hearing Brian Hicks bellow "ladies and gentlemen, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra." So I didn't miss much. That can't be said for a lot of people as the lines were massive to get in. Some didn't get in until the second half began.

Time For the Show. The Acronym OMG seems to pale in comparison. I saw Mannheim Steamroller Live, but this is way bigger. Band, Singers, Local String Session Players, Lights, Lasers, Smoke and FIRE. Yes you heard correctly, Fire, as in Flamethrowers. Yours truly was on the floor and I can testify that it got fairly toasty when those went off. I can only imagine the heat on the stage.

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve (incidentally, a song of that name is part of The Christmas Attic Tour) is the "Christian Tour". Though Christmas is highlighted on both tours, the songs on this tour are "traditional" (March of The Kings, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, Good King Joy (Wencelas), and What Child Is This frame the Programs first half. The story line is a Christmas Remake of The Prodigal Son, or in this case the Prodigal Daughter. A teenage runaway is shown the True Meaning of Christmas (and yes, it is Jesus, not Santa). Consider this lyric from Good King Joy  

"It was long ago
In a foreign land
When the Lord looked down
Said to make a stand
So He sent His son
And said, 'through him you'll know me!' 

Compare this scripture. Colossians 1:15
Berean Study Bible
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Or for 2 or 3 witnesses, try Hebrews 1:3

New International Version
The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

In other words, "Through Him (Jesus) You'll know Me (God, The Father)" Sometimes the Best Sermons are preached by Rock Music.

The Second Half of the show is the Rock Show, which has very little Christmas Music (except for the classic A Mad Russian's Christmas (Nutcracker Improvement) , Wizards in Winter, and Christmas in Sarajevo (the Grand Finale). The singers and dancers steal the show, especially the ladies. And jestingly My Current Crush is Kayla Reeves, who at 24 could be my daughter, so that is a cold water on fire. Still, hearing her growl her way through "Not The Same" and "Night Conceives", she is my Ultimate Rock Chick. And watch for the impromptu "candlelight service" via cell phones. Very cool.

It took me longer than I wanted to do this review, but It is done the way I wanted. I can't leave you without a TSO Classic. Christmas Canon Rock, with Georgia Napolitano, Lisa Lavie, Kayla Reeves, and Natalia Rose. Enjoy. I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The 2016 MVM Christmas Parade: This Christmas All I Need Is You

It's time to kick the Parade into High Gear. Sunday Is Christmas. Wow that came up close.We will try to have at least a video a day from now until the New Year, or Epiphany. 

We begin with the Ultimate Christmas Band. Mannheim Steamroller.
And move on to the Heir Apparent. Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
And you can't have Christmas without Denver and The Mile High Orchestra. 
Merry Christmas To All. I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The 10 Best Albums of 2016

We are at that time of the year again, when we do our best to go through all the releases that have come across our desk in the past 12 months and highlight ten of them. Not an easy task in any circumstances. However, there are a few helps. They have to be a Perfect 5 Emerald release. That is only a bit of a help since I had over 50 of those. But I did it. Not surprisingly, we are a bit Rock Centric. Personally we all love a countdown, so let's do it. From the Bottom:
  • #10 - Life Screams, Lacey Sturm - While not the news that a lot of people wanted to hear (We All Want Lacey Back in Flyleaf, a DC Talk Reunion and Peace On Earth), we have to face the fact that Lacey is not going back. Not after a solo debut like this. The Pain oozes from each song. Never before could you get such free therapy this side of an Evanescence album.
  • #9 - Exhale, Thousand Foot Krutch - Trevor and Company are Back. Not that they ever went away, but they somehow mellowed out. They found the 11 on the amplifier this time, as this is a RAWKFEST from beginning to end.
  • #8 - American Prodigal, Crowder - We very briefly touch the Modern Worship genre, though this is firmly in the Rock section. If you are going to have a breakup, this is the way to do it (see #7 below). Here the namesake of the former David Crowder Band.
  • #7 - Galaxies, The Digital Age - The Crowder Band, minus Crowder. While David went Rock, the band went Electronic, an inspired choice. This time the songs are interspersed with some of the Apollo Space Program conversations, which seem quite timely in light of John Glenn's death.
  • #6 - Types and Shadows, Wolves at The Gate - I Prophecy Big Success for this album (sorry, inside lingo on the title, which refers to the Symbols of The Old Testament (Passover or The Tabernacle, for example) which found their substance in Christ.
  • #5 - Long Live The Rebels, Disciple - My second favorite Southern Rockers (Third Day is #1) return with their hardest ever. That's not to say that there aren't some great ballads on this album, Just listen to God Is With Us.
  • #4 - Worship Journal (Live), Fred Hammond - Let The Church Say YEAH. Fred Hammond has always been a favorite of mine, and this time he decides to explore the Modern Worship genre and to inject a bit of Gospel Funk into it. And believe me, it needs it.
  • #3 - Therapy Session, NF - Remember what I said about Evanescence and Lacey being a Musical Therapy Session, well everyone has their favorite therapist I guess. However, in this case it almost feels like anger management. NF has grown with each release, and this is perfect.
  • #2 - Ghost Ship, Theocracy - Matt Smith and company are quickly becoming my second favorite metal act next to Stryper, and that is High Praise. Smith can scream up there with Sweet, the lyrics are full of message, and best of all this is a band that isn't afraid of long instrumental sections. Who said a theocracy was a bad thing?
  • #1 - One Sided War, Michael Sweet - Personally, I think Michael wants to see our heads explode as we split hairs between this and Fallen by Stryper, the band he leads in Headbanging Excellence. Our only salvation is that Stryper and One Sided War fall in different calendar years. Borrowing players from Evanescence, Whitesnake, and others he has crafted a much harder sound than with Stryper. Don't ever go Country, Michael, it's a step down.
That gets out my Top 10 of 2016. Now I will look on the competition and see who they liked, and if we agree. I had over 50 to pick from, so I will give them some leeway. If they were on that list, I'll give them a pass. Until next time, order from the links and support The Night Beat. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Night Beat Rewind: November 2016

There is quite a lot to be thankful for this November, as we had a full slate of releases. Of course, most of them are Christmas Music, which are not eligible for the Platinum Vinyl Awards. Considering the amount of these releases it is also something to be thankful for. We begin with the aforementioned Christmas Music.

Christmas Music (Non-Eligible)

That is a whole bunch of Christmas Releases. Now onto the regular stuff. Even in November there is a bit of non-holiday releases. We begin with the songs, or 

The Singles Scene

  • King Stevian - Ripcord 3.50 Emeralds
  • The Waiting Kind - Heartbeat 4.75 Emeralds
Moving On Without Comment. To the albums. We begin with those that will not be considered for #PlatVnyl8.

Missing The Mark

  • Changing Pointe Church - You Remain 3.75 Emeralds
  • Lisa Mitts - Where I Belong 3.50 Emeralds
  • Tommy Saint - Tommy Saint 3.75 Emeralds
  • Skrip - Exposition 3.75 Emeralds
Most of these releases are good, but just not award worthy. Lisa Mitts however the verdict is still out on. Maybe her vocals will grow on me (or improve). But right now think nails and chalkboard. Not so with the next grouping.

Pure Platinum Perfection

  • Future of Forestry - Awakened to The Sound 5 Emeralds
  • Wolves at The Gate - Types and Shadows 5 Emeralds   
Yes I know, what about the others. In order to not repeat myself I am leaving this section to the non Christmas Releases. There are also 3 Perfect 5's in the Christmas Section. Our final grouping is for those in between, or as we like to call them here

Semi-Precious Metals

  • Canon - Loose Canon, Volume 3 4.50 Emeralds
  • Chapel Band - The Gathering 4.75 Emeralds
  • Death Requisite - Revisitation 4.75 Emeralds
  • Tim Drisdelle -Heights, Part 1 4.75 Emeralds
  • Summer Floyd - Ray of Light 4.50 Emeralds
  • Meleana - White Walls 4.50 Emeralds
  • VaShawn Mitchell - Secret Place: Live In South Africa 4.75 Emeralds
  • The Museum - Reclaimed EP 4.50 Emeralds
  • Ginny Owens - Love Be The Loudest 4.75 Emeralds
  • Chris Quillala - Split The Sky 4.75 Emeralds
  • S.O. - These Things Take Time EP 4.75 Emeralds
  • Toby Mac - Hits Deep Live 4.75 Emeralds
  • Micah Tyler - Different EP 4.75 Emeralds        

Monday, December 5, 2016

The 2016 MVM Christmas Parade: Tell Me What You Want for Christmas

Welcome to a special edition of Music Video Monday. We are in the midst of the Christmas Parade. We are going to do our best to do only Christmas Music until Epiphany. Let's join the Parade. We begin with Anthem Lights and a wish for a Simple Little Christmas.
Next up we will go a little high octane with John Schlitt and The Little Drummer Boy.
Finally we will fast forward to August. No, not the month, but Chris August. He has a question for you: Tell Me What You Want For Christmas. As long as he's buying, I wonder if money is no object.

That does it for the Christmas Parade for this week. Until the next time we meet, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The 2016 MVM Christmas Parade: My Family's Crazy

Welcome to a very special Music Video Monday. It's time for the 2016 Christmas Parade. From now until the new year we will be handling Christmas Videos exclusively. Hopefully the supply of music videos will be replenished by then.

We begin with a classic song, though a fan video. Sara Groves is singing about Toy Packaging. Never mind the dynamite.

Well go with a bit of Classic Romance for the next video. We've got a little bit of Dave Barnes. I think I could stay in for Christmas Tonight if I had a girl like that.

Anyway, they say that the Holiday Season is a time of great stress. Toy Packaging not withstanding. It usually has something to do with relatives. Of course I wouldn't know that, because I really don't have an extended family. But things have gotten askew for Tim Skipper (House of Heroes) and his wife Stephanie (Smith) Skipper. They know that My Family's Crazy (At Christmas Time).
The 2016 edition of The Night Beat Christmas Parade is under way. We will be posting at least on Monday, depending on how many videos I can scare up. Until next time, Ho Ho Ho and I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Music Video Monday: This Present Darkness

Welcome back to another edition of Music Video Monday, where we show the best Music Videos suitable for a Christian Audience. I changed up my intro because this week I have a video which may be the greatest, but isn't exactly the latest. It was out a while ago, but I just discovered the artist and the video.

We begin with a bit of Metal. Poured Out is the name of the band, and this is Humankind Suicide.
Next up we are going to start slowly breaking into the Holiday Spirit (not Spirits, that's something only done at the Office Party after Youppi spikes the punch). A folk/pop favorite here at Night Beat HQ is JJ Heller. From her latest Christmas Release Unto Us, this is the lyric video for the title cut.
And finally, the promised video. The artist is named Leah McHenry, but she just prefers LEAH. From an album that could have cleaned up at #PlatVnyl6 entitled Kings and Queens. This is the lyric video for This Present Darkness.
Now when I saw this video, all these scripture verses came rushing into my memory. The song is a veritable Bible Study on Spiritual Warfare.

That does it for this edition of Music Video Monday. Beginning next week we will put things on Pause, and begin another edition of the Night Beat Christmas Parade, which will extend into January. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Night Beat Rewind: October 2016

Welcome to the first edition of Night Beat Rewind for #PlatVnyl8. Eight years. It really doesn't seem that long at all. One note. Christmas Music season is now upon us. Since that is time sensitive, I will be linking those albums for purchase. All others will be held until the quarterly wrap. Let's get started. We begin with the aforesaid Christmas Music, which is not eligible for a Platinum Vinyl Award.

Christmas Music(Non-Eligible)

I won't say much about this for time and space sake. On to:

The Singles Scene

  • Andale - Phenomenal 4.75 Emeralds
  • MH Eternal - Flammable Kingdoms (Matthew Parker Remix) 4.75 Emeralds
  • Chris Howland - Savior ft Joel Vaughn 4.75 Emeralds
  • DJ Maj - What If ft Aaron Cole 4.50 Emeralds
  • Puntin - L's 4.50 Emeralds
  • Joel Vaughn - As You Are 4.75 Emeralds
We are loaded, so let's move right on to the albums which are left out of the pool.

Missing The Mark

  • Applejaxx - Bake Sale 3.75 Emeralds
  • Paul Baloche - Your Mercy 3.75 Emeralds
  • Bizzle - Crowns and Crosses 3.75 Emeralds
  • Poured Out - To The Point of Death 43.75 Emeralds
  • Seeker - Loss 3.50 Emeralds
  • Phil Wickham - Children of God: Acoustic Sessions 3.75 Emeralds
I liked the original Children of God album, but something was missing here. It was certainly not the same feel as his Singalong albums. I know what was missing, the singalong. Of course having six albums here makes me think this ship of state is still afloat. Never mind stay afloat, the following releases Rule The Seas.

Pure Platinum Perfection

  • Jonathan Cain - What God Wants To Hear 5 Emeralds
  • The Digital Age - Galaxies 5 Emeralds
  • Disciple - Long Live The Rebels 5 Emeralds
  • Nimisilla Park - Welcome to Nimisilla Park 5 Emeralds
  • Ocean Calling - Quiet Magic 5 Emeralds
  • Rend Collective - Campfire II: Simplicity 5 Emeralds
  • Satellites and Sirens - Tanks 5 Emeralds
  • Theocracy - Ghost Ship 5 Emeralds
  • Jean Watson - Wonder 5 Emeralds
I really can't say much except WOW for these albums. Of course having 9 in this category would be worrisome if it were not for the 6 that missed the mark. It sort of balances itself out. Most releases are in the middle, however.

Semi-Precious Metal

  • About A Mile - Trust You All The Way 4.50 Emeralds
  • Audrey Assad - Inheritance Deluxe 4.75 Emeralds
  • Sho Baraka - The Narrative 4.50 Emeralds
  • Dez Childs - Work of Art 4.75 Emeralds
  • Comrades - Lone/Gray 4.75 Emeralds
  • The Devil Wears Prada - Transit Blues 4.75 Emeralds
  • Consumed By Fire Giving Over 4.75 Emeralds
  • Fit For A King - Death Grip 4.75 Emeralds
  • Keith and Kristyn Getty - Facing A Task Unfinished 4.75 Emeralds
  • Maria Gilpin - Giving It All EP 4.50 Emeralds
  • Philip Hamrick - Getting Stronger 4.75 Emeralds
  • Dead Heroes - Dead Heroes EP 4.50 Emeralds
  • Hillsong - Let There Be Light (Live) 4.75 Emeralds
  • Heesun Lee - Beauty For Ashes 4.75 Emeralds
  • Stephen Miller - In God We Trust 4.50 Emeralds
  • Derek Minor - Reflection 4.75 Emeralds
  • Britt Nicole - Britt Nicole 4.50 Emeralds
  • Matthew Parker - Adventure 4.75 Emeralds
  • B. Reith - Heart on my sleeve 4.75 Emeralds
  • Austin Stone Worship - Only Jesus 4.50 Emeralds
  • Tenth Avenue North - Followers 4.75 Emeralds
  • Chris Tomlin - Never Lose Sight 4.75 Emeralds   
That does it for this first Night Beat Rewind of #PlatVnyl8. Stay with us as we cover our biggest and greatest year yet. As always, I am Awaiting Your Reply.