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Mercy, MercyMe: A Review of 'Live'

By Jennifer E. Jones Producer

CBN.comTour DVDs are like the consolation prize of the concert experience. If you can't win the top honor of being there in person, then a video of the performance is the next best thing. The case is the same with crossover band MercyMe. Today, INO Records releases their MercyMe Live double-disc DVD and gives fans an eyeful of the band they’ve come to love.

On their concert disc, leader singer/songwriter Bart Millard’s haunting vocals pierce through the darkness on stage as he opens with the chorus of “In the Air Tonight.” Singing, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight / I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life” is a magnificent way to begin a concert but I couldn’t help but get distracted by the fact that it’s a cover of the original sung by Phil Collins. That’s all right by itself, but the pervading urban legend is that it’s a song about revenge. Needless to say, it didn’t put me in the right frame of mind for a pop/rock worship concert.

Nevertheless, the guys plowed through upbeat hits such as “A Change Inside of Me” and “On My Way to You.” In between songs, viewers get a chance to look a little closer at the band and their story. In the off-season, in between their Fall and Spring tours, the men suffered multiple deaths of loved ones that shook their faith. Bart was able to write “Homesick,” which wrenches even the hardest heart. The song expresses the hopeful earnestness of a man who’s been left behind by the death of a loved one, realizing that one day they will be reunited.

One can see that the whole experience ultimately made the tour stronger. "People look at us on stage and don’t realize that we’re just normal people going through what normal people go through," says percussionist Robby Shaffer. "To lose someone that close to you then go on tour three weeks later -- that doesn’t happen unless Christ is the center of your life."

In spite of losses, they still have not lost their ability to find the humor in life. MercyMe Live not only lets you see their heart but that quirky funny bone. Bart tells stories with a self-deprecating wit that continually reminds you that the multi-award winning group is just six boys from Texas. They had no shame in doing a Southern gospel version of the classic hymn, “I Surrender All,” complete with Jim Bryson on accordion. The only thing missing was a banjo and the Gaithers.

The interludes are also a time to minister to the audience. After leading what sounded like a choir of angels in “He is Lord,” Bart says, “There is a God that is so awesome that only He tells the sun when to shine. That same God is crazy about us,” Bart says. “The second you call on his name, He is there. A relationship with Christ is not based on how we feel but who God is.”

Musically, even the casual MercyMe fan will get their money’s worth. The band settles down half way through into an acoustic set to get more intimate with the crowd and the worship. Bart crooned under blue lights with Scripture verses scrolling behind him for “Word of God Speak.” The stage turned into a smoky dreamland for “I Can Only Imagine,” and they finished with a bang of U2 cover “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

MercyMe Live also comes with a bonus DVD, chock full of extra goodies for the hardcore fan. Viewers get a glimpse at life on a tour bus; find out the true meaning of “I Can Only Imagine,” and get a rare acapella performance in the bathroom of a Major League Baseball stadium as the boys prepare to sing the national anthem.

For ten solid years, MercyMe has taught mainstream radio and Christians alike how to worship sincerely. In spite of commercial success, they still consider themselves worship leaders. Bart tells the audience, “I can’t think of any better sound in all the world than the body of Christ lifting up the name of Jesus.” You get that and much more with MercyMe Live. This is by no means a substitute for seeing the band live in concert but it’s a nice souvenir of an unforgettable night.

Purchase MercyMe Live


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