April 3, 2000

Newsboys please fans with 'Disco' tour traveling stage

by Josh Renaud
staff editor

The Newsboys' "Love Liberty Disco" tour features two giant inflatable domes. Because of great weather in St. Louis, the band chose not to set up the domes. Instead, fans enjoyed an outdoor concert with an "in-the-round" stage and the Newsboys' trademark high-tech gadgetry like their rotating/levitating drumset.

I'm sure passers-by were puzzled by the sights and sounds spewing from a corner of the South County Mall parking lot Thursday, March 24.

What was all the musical ruckus? Well, youth groups, parents, families, college students and fans of all ages flocked to see one of Christian music's most popular rock bands, the Newsboys, perform.

Initially, there might have been a let down as people drove in and filled the parking lot. You see, the Newsboys have been toting two large, inflatable domes with them across the country on their "Love Liberty Disco" tour. Instead of trying to adapt various arenas to their high-velocity and gizmo-laden stage, they have been bringing their own stage and their own venue from city to city. On this night, though, the 'Boys elected not to erect the dome because the weather was so beautiful.

Any fans who were disappointed about missing the 'concert-in-a-portable-dome' were soon feeling good again because this concert was really incredible.

The Newsboys brought along two opening bands, Bean Bag and Sonicflood. Bean Bag played a really short set--three hard, up-and-down thrash songs. Just as quickly, Sonicflood took the stage and steered the concert in a completely different direction. The band made it very clear that the purpose of their set was to praise and worship God. They played several of their more popular songs, all of them second-person songs of devotion to God that ranged in style from contemporary to light rock.

The crowd really took to Sonicflood and it was impressive to see so many people worshipping in so many ways. One girl sang softly and instead used her hands so expressively to paint pictures of worship in the air.

After a 15-minute intermission, the Newsboys were ready to play and so was the crowd. With disco music raging, all the band members ran on stage in their all-white 70s garb, and the audience ate it up.

The band stuck mostly to a set list of their most popular songs like "Shine," "Breakfast," and "Entertaining Angels," as well as a large helping from their album "Love Liberty Disco." Truth be told, most of the songs on that album and at the concert were not really disco. The Newsboys played pretty solid double-guitar rock, with their trademark sampling and 80s-style keyboard effects.

Peter Furler, the band's founder and lead singer, definitely held the crowd's enthusiasm. The past several years of touring have clearly sharpened his performing skills.

And the Newsboys brought their bag of tricks along with them. The stage was set up in-the-round, with the audience encircling it. This meant the band members were frequently running from one side to the other, mixing it up with the entire audience. And many in the crowd gasped when Furler and drummer Duncan Phillips buckled themselves into their seats on the drum platform, and a hydraulic lift pushed the platform high into the air. As the two beat mercilessly on their trap sets, the platform tilted and began rotating almost 360 degrees like a ride you would find at Six Flags. While one cymbal fell off the platform to the stage, the sight gag was very impressive and had the crowd cheering.

After a long, energetic set, Furler quieted the crowd to share a brief message about Jesus Christ. The crowd was absolutely silent, and seemed to absorb everything he said.

The Newsboys ended the show with several more hit songs and closed by inviting the audience to sing the old hymn "Hallelujah."

Despite the surprise of the open-air show, most fans seemed very happy and worn out--always a sign of a good rock show.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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