Third Day brought their hugely popular "Come Together" tour to Broadbent Arena on April 17. About 4500 people were on hand for the concert, which marks Third Day's third Louisville appearance in just over a year. The tour has been selling out all over the U.S., but didn't quite sell out in Louisville. Why? We'll get to that.
I've seen Third Day play several times over the years and have been impressed with their unusual way of mixing rock and roll with praise and worship. Other bands have tried it before, but has it ever worked this well? I don't think so. However, this tour has taken the band's live performance to a whole new level. Third Day has arrived where few other Christian bands have gone: arena rock. Dc Talk has done it, The Newsboys, maybe Jars Of Clay. What I mean by "arena rock" is that they are putting on a full-fledged rock show comparable to anything in so-called "mainstream" music. It's big. It's loud. It's an experience. These are memorable shows, the kind where you keep the ticket stub forever and remember different aspects of the show for years to come.
Third Day (Mac Powell - vocals, Brad Avery - guitar, Mark Lee - guitar, Tai Anderson - bass, David Carr - drums) sounded the best I've ever heard them, putting on a two-hour show that had the crowd rocking that night. From older songs like "Consuming Fire" (the first song they ever played as a group) to new ones like "Show Me Your Glory," the band poured non-stop energy into the performance.
It was obvious how the group has changed over the years. Early material like "Fire" rings of the early `90's era of Seattle grunge. I can remember calling Third Day "Eddie Vedder and the Blowfish" when I first started hearing them. After the release of their third album Time, which was recorded in Atlanta, maybe "Hootie and the Crowes" would have been more accurate. While "Glory," though a rock tune, showed the band's new tendency towards a praise and worship style. That style, mixing rock and praise, has launched the band into Christian music "stardom," as it were. All ages and all religious flavors seem to like this band. Christian radio hits like "God Of Wonders" and "Your Love Oh Lord" had the crowd practically hypnotized, with nearly every hand in the building raised, swaying back and forth. It could have been a church service.
The night has its light moments as well. Towards the end of the show Powell said that the band was going play a `new song,' then launched into Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again". Opening artists Bebo Norman and The Paul Colman Trio joined in.
Third Day has raised over $100,000 dollars for Habitat for Humanity International on the tour. Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) is a housing ministry probably best know for it's association with former President Jimmy Carter. Additional funds for HFHI are being raised with every added ticket sold. To date, the tour has sold out at least 19 concerts and performed in front of over 120,000 people. Members of the group are also putting their own muscle into the work of HFHI. While they have assisted builds in other cities, the band was set at to break ground for a new home for the first time in Nashville last month. Work was to begin on the first Habitat home fully funded by the band and its fans that have purchased tour tickets. Tai Anderson said that over $5,000 was raised at the Louisville show.
A portion of each tour ticket sold goes to help Third Day and HFHI build eight homes worldwide during 2002. Third Day has committed to building three of these homes in cities across the United States. In addition to Nashville, homes will be built in West Palm Beach and Atlanta.
"There is an excitement on this tour we have never felt before," says Anderson. "It's incredible to be able to stand in front of thousands of people each night knowing that all of these fans have contributed to a cause bigger than Third Day. Having met a few of these amazing Habitat future home owners and seeing their overwhelming sense of gratitude is truly worth all the effort."
I had a chance to talk with Brad Avery before the show, and he echoed Anderson's sentiment. I believe the band really wants to do something positive, and are not just trying to look like do-gooders.
"Third Day's effort is a testament to the positive impact the music industry has on the Nashville community," said Hank Helton, director of the division of Affordable Housing. "They are demonstrating their belief in the ability to bring positive change through faith-based community efforts and assisting this administration in its efforts to provide sustainable and affordable housing solutions to Nashville's citizens."
Millard Fuller, founder and president of HFHI, says: "Third Day is committing their time, talent and resources - you can't ask for much more than that. They truly are putting their faith into action and demonstrating their tremendous commitment to Habitat by agreeing to fully fund eight houses and building side by side with future homeowners and Nashville volunteers to eradicate poverty housing."
The "Come Together" tour wraps up this month. So why didn't the Louisville show sell out? Probably because of another event happening on the other side of town. Michael W. Smith led worship at Southeast Christian Church that night. It was a non-ticketed, free event that reportedly drew about 10,000 people. What was so remarkable was the fact that Smith managed to make it to both events! The Southeast service was over at about 7:45 p.m., while back at Broadbent opener Bebo Norman was still playing. Third Day hit the stage about 8:30 p.m., and Smith introduced them to the crowd. It was a big night for Christian music in Louisville.
Just announced: True Vibe brings its slick pop sound to Evangel World Prayer Center in Louisville on June 28. Tickets are available now at Louisville and Elizabethtown Christian bookstores, as well as the Campbellsville University Bookstore in Campbellsville.
Also next month: Jars of Clay, Jennifer Knapp, and The Fusion Worship Band play at the new amphitheatre inside Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. I think this is the best deal all summer. If the park has it set up like they've done before, you can get in for less than $20, which includes the concert plus of course you can ride the rides all day. More info on this in the next issue of LMN.