I’ve been a fan of the Rend Collective for a while now. Their joyful worship music pleads with God to “build Your Kingdom here” and “set the Church on fire” with the Spirit. As members of the growing Evangelical movement in Northern Ireland, they also bring a rich heritage of Celtic music and instruments to their mix. Now, after years in the trenches and with a new album of worship music released, they burst onto the stage with the full force of a band on the rise and ready to play larger Christian venues with volume, power and professional lighting.
It was a great rock show at full concert volume that kept the crown on their feet with arms and voices raised in prayer. It was fun and I had a great time, but as a Christian musician and Music Director, I find I’m a bit more finicky than I was in my younger years. I expect more.
My biggest complaint was the mix. I love loud, but I’m obsessive about a mix that brings out all the quality of great instruments and voices working together to make a song truly moving. This concert had all the excitement, but mixed the drums and lead singer much higher than the rest of the band. They also did a lousy job of rolling off offending bass frequencies which made the sound muddy. Other instruments (lead guitar and keyboards, in particular) were lost in the mix along with the vocals from the rest of the band. This also led to a lack of dynamics and instrumental diversity that would have given each song it’s own voice. I could see each member playing a variety of instruments and singing their parts, but most of it was lost in the mix.
As they started into the songs from their new album, I started thinking about the pressure that comes with success. Their new songs had plenty of punch, but were clearly more aligned with the “formula” Christian music that comes across the airwaves now, than with their roots. I suspect that as with any type of music, the closer one gets to the mainstream, the more pressure there is to conform to what sells tickets and gets top billing. This is why I love the Roots Worship music of John Barnett, who goes out of his way to connect on street level (more on John in a future column).
In retrospect, I recognize that there are lots of people out there who are looking for Jesus and one of the strongest tools of evangelization is music. For most people who are looking for a new church, music is the major factor in deciding to come back. This is why evangelical churches put so much money and effort in growing a music ministry that attracts their primary demographic of families with children. They recognize that you need to bring people in the door before you can form them into disciples and there are key demographic groups that are needed to keep a church growing and healthy.
I leave you with the Rend Collective version of “10,000 Reasons” which closed the show. It was moving, worshipful, joyful, Celtic version that made me so glad I got to hear them.