Sunday night’s tour stop at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids featured a host of inspirational artists, including West Michigan’s own George Moss. The review, photos and set list.
SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO GALLERY, SET LIST
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
TobyMac was vulnerable, joyous, serious and fun-filled all in the course of 90 minutes Sunday in front of an attentive, 8,000-strong crowd at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
The inspirational artist (aka Toby McKeehan), and his Diverse City band performed six songs from his latest collection “Life After Death.”
More than three years ago, Toby lost his eldest son to an accidental drug overdose. So songs such as the groove-laced opener “Help Is On The Way (Maybe Midnight)” and the ballad “Promised Land” both touch on themes of finding new hope.
But the artist most directly addressed his loss during his declarative new anthem “Cornerstone.”
“I said to my family we have to rebuild,” Toby told the quieted audience.
“But we will not rebuild on the promises of this world … but on the solid rock … the Cornerstone.”
He completed the song as a duet with a pre-recorded, on-screen Zach Williams, whose vocals are on the album.
The tender “Faithfully” also offers part of his personal journey of holding onto hope.
The deep and rangy staging made for bonding with an arena-sized audience. A tuning fork shaped runway led out from the front of the main platform, allowing the artist to move to the arena’s center.
Toby and his band members took full advantage to get up close and personal with dance, voices and instruments.
And speaking of his band, it lives up to its name with horns, keyboards, two percussionists and two primary background vocalists. Guitarist Tim Rosenau doubles on trumpet, and Keith Everett Smith is handles both guitar and percussion.
But a special salute goes to Grand Rapids native George Moss, who is filling in for an ill band-member for the entire tour.
Moss played coronet as well as contributed vocals and choreography and was in the step the entire night.
“He’s been everything we signed up for on this tour,” voiced an approving Toby in front of Moss’s hometown crowd.
OTHER SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
• The combination of supportive lighting and large screen video content offered a sensory experience to music fans. During “City on Our Knees,” for example, the downtown landscape of Grand Rapids appeared behind the main stage.
• Toby dipped back into some of his older hits such as “Steal My Show” and the rhythmic “Me Without You,” the latter helped by vocals from opening act Michael Cochren.
• The singularly named Terrian did an opening two-song set but was a mainstay voice in Toby’s musical entourage.
• Jon Reddick also performed early, and later joined Toby during his gospel-ly, B-3 organ-touched “Show Up Choose Love,” which he co-wrote. Tasha Layton did the same, stepping up to duet with Toby on “Speak Life.”
Near the evening’s end, DJ Maj (Michael Allen) scratched the onstage turntables, sampling tunes from Journey and Earth Wind & Fire, inviting the audience to join the artists and dance along. A second blast from the confetti canons added to the ambience. “Dance on outa here,” Toby entreated after some words of thanks.
No need for an encore. TobyMac had given his all, fulfilling his earlier promise that, “Grand Rapids, we’re gonna give you all we got tonight.”
Just before intermission, the band Crowder (led by David Crowder) did a loud and stomping 10-song set, mixing instruments (banjo, violin, lap and pedal steel guitar, and what looked like a mini-Moog synthesizer) and three background vocalists with his Southern rock/blues vibe.
There were several tamer offerings in the set, (“Come as You Are” was particularly effective). But tunes such as “Run Devil, Run” “Prove It” and “Higher Power” are strong both in method and message. Band member and rapper JR Collins added some lines to several key selections.
Crowder’s best known song may well be his uplifting (and set-closing) “Good God Almighty,” which topped several Christian radio charts in 2021.
PHOTO GALLERY: TobyMac, Crowder and More at Van Andel Arena
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek
1. Help is on the Way (Maybe Midnight)
3. I Just Need You
4. Show Up, Choose Love
5. Love Broke Through
6. Speak Life
7. Made to Love
8. Lose My Soul
10. Move (Keep Walking’)
11. Hello Future
12. Til the Day I Die
13. Faithfully/The Goodness of God
15. Steal My Show
16. City on our Knees
17. Me Without You
18. (DJ Maj solo)
19. The Goodness
20. Promised Land
21 Feel It
22. (a concluding “Dance Party Jam”)
1. Milk & Honey
2. Prove It
3. Run Devil, Run
4. Higher Power
5. Red Letters
6. Come As You Are
7. God Really Loves Us
8. Lift Your Head, Weary Sinner
9. All My Hope
10. Good God Almighty
Copyright 2023, Spins on Music LLC