4 Him at Highview Baptist

By Paul Turner

On January 30, New Covenant Productions brought the Contemporary Christian group 4 Him to Louisville for an evening concert at Highview Baptist Church.

The group, whose members are Andy Chrisman, Mark Harris, Mark McGhee and Kirk Sullivan, are as different in their musical states as in the states they each call home. With their pleasant blend of smooth harmonies and strong stage presence, the whole proved to be greater than the sum total of its parts, making for a very enjoyable evening.

The four, spinning off from the popular group Truth only a couple of years ago, have experienced an unusual amount of success for a new group. Including five Dove Award nominations their first year and Song of the Year nomination and Best New Artist Dove Award in 1991, the group is quick to point out that their message, not their trophies, is what counts.

Variety was a key element of the evening, as each of the four would take turns sharing the responsibilities of lead vocal and fronting the group.

Marty took the lead in "Every Reason." With his soulful voice a la Roby Duke in front, and the group in strong vocal support, this formula proved to be the group's strong suit musically.

A bit rough vocally getting into "Life Goes On," which featured some provocative lyrics, the four settled in and brought it to a dynamic ending, bringing down the lights to add effect.

"Couldn't We," another powerful lyric, ended in strong five-part harmony... four vocals and a reverb unit.

After a brief commercial break (Marty, you make a great shirt and tape rack.) and a short intermission, the group offered up the title cut from their Face the Nation album, on the Benson label. It was a strong opener, with Marty in front and the rest in strong support.

The light jazz "Just Over the Horizon," another familiar tune via radio airplay, produced a smooth group vocal blend. I just had to snap my fingers and tap my feet.

"Deck the Halls"... yes, the one with boughs of holly... provided the entertainment highlight of the night. The group provided a veritable musical journey through the decades using the words of "Deck the Halls" which, as Mark warned, "has no deep, theological meaning for you seminary students." The rendition included all the appropriate vocal and instrument backing for "Proud Mary," "Don't Worry ... Be Happy," the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" ("Deckin' the Halls") and rounding out the segment poking fun at the Beach Boys, the Beatles... or actually the Isley Brothers... singing "Twist and Shout" in the '50s, and last but certainly not least, "Ol' Blue Eyes" himself, with a grand finale complete with cancan. Fresh material and a solid performance with lots of charisma.

"Where the Chisel Meets the Stone," yet another sensitive lyric, led into "Why," another Face the Nation tune which is currently climbing the charts. Featuring Mark's vocal, it was another musical peak of the evening by the group.

Following an Invitation by Mark, Andy closed the set with his best performance of the night in "Where is the Faith"... their single, an anthem from their debut album.

The evening closed out with an encore of "Walls."

P.S. Guys, thanks again for stopping in Louisville on your busy tour. Don't forget, you promised to stop by again. And next time when you ask who's seen you live, look for my hand.