Come Alive Tour
by Susan Lloyd
Schultz & Point of Grace
Shandon Baptist Church
quite a few years since I've been able to see Mark Schultz and Point of
a stage. My last opportunity was at Charleston
Southern University, and Schultz was an opener for Point of Grace and not
scheduled to tour for the entire run. It was a great pairing to witness,
and over the years these two acts have had the chance to appear together,
but not tour together.
Since that first time I saw them, Point of Grace has added to their Dove Award collection (a total of ten) and Schultz has become the #1 Singer/songwriter on Billboard's “Hot Contemporary Christian Songwriters” chart. And that's just to name a few of these two acts's collective awards. The Come Alive Tour marks the first time Point of Grace and Mark Schultz have shared an entire tour, and the centerpiece for the tour is the Christian organization World Vision, a group who gives people the opportunity to support specific children in third world countries.
My chance to see this highly anticipated tour was at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, SC. I caught the very last show of this run, but there were no indicators from either Schultz or Point of Grace that they were ready to be done. Their energy levels were high as was their enthusiasm for the crowd of over 2000 who were in attendance to hear some of their most popular hits.
Point of Grace opened the show and walked out onto the beautifully decorated stage area to warm applause. The crowd, although seated throughout the majority of the show, still showed great attention and affection for the band by singing along and clapping to the rhythm on many different occasions. The women who make up Point of Grace (Shelley Breen, Denise Jones, and Leigh Cappilino) looked fantastic and happy to be in Columbia. And those trademark harmonies sounded fantastic as well. As they sang, the lighting cast on the billowing backdrop that circled the stage and changed colors ranging from dramatic reds to majestic purple hues.
Point of Grace included the title track from their latest release How You Live in their set list as well as “All the World”, “I Wish”, and “King of the World”. And for fans who weren't as familiar with the group's latest work, they also performed “Circle of Friends” and “Gather at the River”, two of their most well-known hits. I was surprised to hear the country overtones in their latest songs and their cover of John Denver's “Thank God I'm a Country Boy (Girl)” was so good it made me wonder why it had taken this long for Point of Grace to cross over into the country market. They seemed to really click on that song as well as their cover of Diamond Rio's “Meet in the Middle”.
These highly talented women made it clear that Jesus is at the center of their music and their lives without going into a heavy dose of theology and evangelistic overtures. For me, that was a welcome change from the first time I saw them. Not only was their music well performed, it seemed they made a point to be highly relational to anyone who might be in the audience regardless of the person's religious background. One of the groups most touching songs “King of the World" was preceded by a video that featured each woman's father telling stories of what it was like to be dad to his daughter. During that song, the room felt a little smaller as each daughter or father in the audience pulled from their life experience as they listened to the words.
By supporting World Vision Point of Grace gave feet to their faith, and when Shelley Breen was joined by Mark Schultz to talk about their passion for the organization, her words were genuine. Together the two made an honest plea for the audience to be involved with World Vision, urging the largely Christian audience to take their faith into the darker places of the world by means of supporting one child at a time.
Point of Grace's hour long set was an ideal lead in for Mark Schultz's set. The women had raised the energy level considerably and had sang an excellent set of songs that pulled the audience in and gave them a warm shared experience. Schultz had no problem entering the scene and relating immediately to the crowd.
Not only is Schultz a gifted songwriter (who claimed more than once during his set that his songs are “dropped into his lap”) he is also quite humorous. His stories of his cross country bike trek, his life with a wife he clearly adores, and his passion for the work of World Vision were as engaging as his songs. He struggled a bit vocally on some of the songs and explained that he wasn't sure he would be able to sing at all that night, but he did sing and he did it well. Where Point of Grace excels with tight harmonies and beautifully blended voices, Schultz excels at vocal expression and texture. The hoarseness he may have felt was an issue didn't seem to get in the way at all.
Schultz's set was built mainly around his latest release Come Alive an album the artist stated was based mainly on the experiences he has had in the past few years, including his experience of riding a bike across the country to raise money for the James Fund, an organization that supports widows and orphans. He explained the story behind “What It Means to be Loved”, touched hearts with his introduction to “Walk Her Home”, and as he introduced "God of Glory", he taught the audience how to sing the chorus.. By the end voices were raised high as the show was turned into a moment of corporate worship. Schultz also floored his audience but in a different way with his beautiful acoustic version of the song "Come Alive".
A gifted keyboardist (again with humility, Schultz told the audience he only plays songs on the black keys because there are less of them), Schultz sat behind his keyboard for part of the night, but his energy did not wane as a result. On more than one occasion, he would perform songs that would allow him to come from behind the keys where he proved that he is also a gifted performer, engaging and authentic.
The night ended with Point of Grace joining Schultz onstage for “Love Has Come” another fan favorite. Schultz came back out for a brief encore that included one of his most memorable hits “Remember Me”.
If what I've been hearing is true, these two acts will resume their tour in the spring, and it's definitely one worth seeing. The level of musical excellence is equaled by the level of sincerity from these two acts, and if they continue to point believers towards works that make a difference in the lives of people across the world, the music becomes more than just a way to be entertained for a night or uplifted for a moment It becomes a vehicle for moving people to act, to reach out, and to be salt and light. The Come Alive Tour is aptly named, and one that undoubtedly has had an impact in positive ways.
To learn more about Mark Schultz you can visit his website at http://markschultzmusic.com/home/
To learn more about Point of Grace you can visit their website at http://www.pointofgrace.net/
View more concert photos at Susan's Flickr page here
All photos copyright Susan Lloyd. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate without permission.
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com