Jars of Clay recently traveled to within 30 minutes of my home. I've seen JOC in concert before, 3 times actually. But it's been years. I probably haven't seen them on tour since their Much Afraid album was selling well. And to be honest, they were never very good live. I think they were young and still trying to figure out how to have solid stage performance. That being said, I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to see them on "The Shelter" tour with Audrey Assad, Matt Maher and Derek Webb.
Before the concert, I had a decision to make. Do I get the regular ticket, or do I go all out and purchase the $45 VIP ticket which included a "Special Merchandise Item" and a meet & greet with the band before the show. I did some asking around, and the JOC management just would not disclose what the "Special Merchandise Item" would be, other than to say, "It's worth it." I'm a sucker. So I bought the "It's worth it," comment, hook, line & sinker.
The "Bad" of the Concert:
The "Special Merchandise Item" was a poster. Not music. Not even a t-shirt. But a poster. Sorry Jars', but disappointment doesn't even begin to cover how I feel about this. $25 for a quick Q & A and a poster. If you wanted to sell "Gold Circle Seating" for $25 or $30 that may have been worth it. But $25 extra dollars for a poster and a seat in the 1st-2nd row. That's not "worth it". Please be more open with communication in the future. (On a positive note, I was with a friend who also had a VIP pass, so we were in the 2nd row. We gave our seats to other friends, one of whom happened to be in town during a break from a military tour in the Middle East. It felt really nice to give them great seats to enjoy the concert.)
The "Good" of the Concert:
Everything else! This is probably one of the best concerts I've attended in years. Seriously, it was amazing. Audrey Assad began the concert with "Sparrow". Shortly after she shared a song she had originally written for her (at the time) boyfriend. When the song was written, they had yet to say, "I love you," to one another. But, "I love you," sounded so much better than, "I like you a whole bunch," when writing the lyrics, so she went with it. When playing the song for a small group of friends for the first time, she realized that they hadn't yet said, "I love you," to one another...and she was singing the song! Uh -oh. Fortunately, it all worked out, and now they're happily married.
Matt Maher was up next. He opened with "Your Grace Is Enough" (no surprise there) and went on to sing "Hold Us Together". I confess, I don't like "Hold Us Together" very much. But I can see why others do.
Derek Webb played a number of tunes as well. He was sure to include "The Spirit vs. The Kick Drum" as well as some new electronic/instrumental tracks from his newest record. It was pretty cool to hear how Derek transformed the Lord's prayer to music. I was impressed.
Finally, Jars' performed better than I'd ever seen them perform previously. "We Will Follow" was a big hit, but they were sure to sing songs not only from "The Shelter" (many of which they included Audrey, Matt & Derek), but also performed songs from "Redemption Songs", "Long Fall Back to Earth", and even a couple from their self-titled album. They were all over the place. While I would've loved to hear "Headphones" and/or ""Out of my Hands" live, it certainly wasn't a deal-breaker. They played well and the sound was perfect for a "live" event. It was wonderful.
If you have a chance to see Jars of Clay on tour, take the opportunity. Seriously. While a VIP ticket may not be "Worth it," the concert is certainly worth the price of admission.