Jars of Clay & PFR Rock Asbury College

By Robert Gruber

In just a few short months, Jars of Clay have become a smash in Christian music. Their eponymous debut lodged in the top ten since its release last spring; their unique blend of folk, classical and alternative rock over hip hop beats remain unequaled in either Christian or secular music. And despite PFR's sizeable following, many were at Asbury College's Hughes Auditorium on Nov. 7, to see Jars of Clay.

They opened their set with "Liquid," and the crowd went wild. They kept the momentum through two more songs, then brought it down with a slow, solemn reading of "He," a song about child abuse. The band did a capable job of recreating the songs from the album, using bass, two acoustic guitars, drums, drum programming and organ. They finished out their all-too-brief set with "Flood," which had people jumping up and down so much that the balcony sections of the old auditorium began bending and swaying precariously. Between sets, those in the upper level were warned that, while such excitement in itself is okay, it could lead to disastrous results in a centuries-old auditorium designed mainly for chapel services.

After a short break, PFR took to the stage, opening with "Great Lengths." Unlike their previous, pared-down performance at Newsong, this time out PFR brought the whole enchilada — lights, keyboards, effects, and instruments that stayed in tune. Overall, the band's playing was tight and impressive — particularly the drumwork of Mark Nash — and live, their trademark harmonies were astonishing.

PFR played mostly songs from Great Lengths and Goldie's Last Day, keeping the energy level high. They were joined onstage by members of Jars of Clay for a short acoustic set, during which they pulled off a smooth version of "That Kind of Love" and three other songs. Afterward, singer/guitar ist Joel Hanson gave a poignant reading of Psalm 139, then spoke at length with the crowd about his experiences with Christ.

There was a palpable sense of God in the room as Hanson asked everyone to pray with him.

The band came back on and blew the doors out for another 30 minutes or so, on songs like "Last Breath" and "Wait For the Sun," encoring with their quirky hit "Goldie's Last Day." It was quite a show, well worth the surprisingly low $10 cover, and an excellent coupling of superb talents.