'Portable Sounds': A Tour-End Review
By Jennifer E. Jones
April 27, 2007
Norfolk, Virginia For one night only, Norfolk, Virginia, turned into “Diverse City”, as tobyMac and his crazy crew came to Chrysler Hall. It was the third to last stop on his outrageous "Portable Sounds Tour". The lineup couldn’t have been better – the man of the hour plus Family Force 5, Building 429, and Thousand Foot Krutch.
Personally, I was looking forward to the opening act: Family Force 5, who blasted on stage in a manic fury of 'crunk'. With the shortest set of all the performers, the “kountry gentlemen” made the most of their time. Lead singer Solomon “Soul Glow Activator” Olds ran amok on the stage in over-sized golden boxing gloves and had no trouble getting the kids on their feet for “Love Addict”. While the adults may have thought they were all over the place, I enjoyed the contained chaos. This is a young band that proves they're just as much fun in concert as they are in the studio.
Building 429 was next and would have won my award for "Best Dressed". Jason Roy wore a stylish newsboy cap, black slacks and a fitted sweater vest that looked sharp. Beyond the vogue factor, the band gave a polished performance, starting their set with their mega hit “Glory Defined”. They played songs from the new album Iris to Iris, and truthfully, I liked “Majesty” live better than on the record. They also pulled out a surprise by covering the chorus of Blessed Union of Soul’s “I Believe”.
We went from adult contemporary rock to the rap metal sounds of Thousand Foot Krutch. This is a band I’ve seen have better days. Their sound mix was distorted leaving lead singer Trevor McNevan’s voice drowning in a reign of guitars. Only because I’m a die-hard fan of the music could I get into it, which is sadly more than I could say for my concert partner, who told me after their set, “I didn’t understand a word of that.” They started off with “Art of Breaking” and worked out some of the sound kinks. They were sounding better by the time they sang “Breathe You In”. “Move” got the audience more excited, and obviously everyone was on their feet for “Rawkfist.”
We got a nice break before tobyMac hit the stage, and it seemed to give the kids more vocal ammunition. I haven’t heard this many teenage girls screaming since junior high. The noise was deafening, and it only increased when the curtain dropped and tobyMac stepped out with his Diverse City band.
Toby picked songs from all of his albums giving the audience a wide selection of his years in the business. He went from “Jesus Freak” to “Extreme Days” to “Slam” to a few songs on the new record, such as “Boomin’” and “I’m For You”. He saved the first single “Made to Love” for the encore. One kid behind me kept yelling, “Ignition”, and I had to agree with him. I missed hearing some of my favorites from the new album like “One World” and “Face of the Earth”.
One thing I admire about a tobyMac show is the camaraderie on stage. They always look like they’re having the most fun especially on feel-good songs like “Love Is in the House”.
Toby always mixes ministry with the fun. Before singing “Gone”, he shared, “This is for all my ladies out there. Don’t let him disrespect you. For all you single ladies out there, don’t even let him step to you unless he loves God.” He also shared passages from the Bible before launching into “In the Light”.
Being the fourth time I’ve seen him, I’ve heard the disco / old school funk medley that they do near the end of their show a lot. However, it’s a constant crowd pleaser as proved by the great response. He threw in some new school as well. I’m sure the moms in the audience clutched their pearls when beats from Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” and Usher’s “Yeah!” were tossed in, but the kids went wild.
Toby went strong until the house lights came on, and even then, he continued singing while climbing into the audience. Although he rocked the house, he left every concert-goer with something to ponder: “He created you, so He could love you.”
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