The popular Christian praise band, Hillsong United made their way to Greensboro last week. These guys are in a unique position where their songs are known and sung in local churches all across the world. Who needs radio airplay when you have millions of believers singing your songs every sunday, right? And because of this, Hillsong United attract arena-sized crowds wherever they go. They even managed to sell out the Staples Center in Los Angeles earlier this year. And after seeing them at the Greensboro Coliseum, I can tell you first hand that they know how to put on an arena-sized show.
It’s an interesting dynamic that the team has to balance, really. Singing praise songs to God is an intimate thing so how do you handle and respect that aspect of it when you perform in an enormous venue? I mean, it’s a tough enough job just to command the attention of 10,000 people for two and a half hours. But to do that PLUS bring people closer to God just adds to the complexity of it all. In any case, I have to say that Hillsong United did a tremendous job both as a live band and getting those in attendance pumped up for Christ.
Yes, they incorporated all the elements found in a typical concert including a synchronized light show, video screens and top-notched sound equipment. But thankfully they did things with humility and sincerity that helped transform the concrete arena feel more like church. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t your touchy-feely, wimpy campfire singalong that people usually think of in terms of church praise music. These guys rocked. the band was tight and played like a well-oiled seasoned arena-rock band. The guys out front (Joel Houston, JD Douglass, Matthew Crocker and Jad Gillies) were full of energy and were infectiously enthusiastic about sharing their love for Christ.
Highlights included: “With Everything” (with the band pounding away and the arena shouting in one voice, it was absolutely phenomenal!!), “All I Need is You” (would have loved to have lingered in the sweet moment a while longer but the band had more songs to perform), “Shout Unto God”, “The Stand” and the one-two-three punch of the high-energy encore led by JD Douglass (“Your Name High”, “Take it All” and “Yours Forever”).
I also want to give props to the audio/visual team. They obviously spent a good amount of time/resource to create unique visuals/lighting design for each song. It definitely enhanced the experience. Also old venues like the Greensboro Coliseum weren’t originally built/designed with concerts in mind so it’s pretty difficult to get decent sound in places like these. But under the circumstances, I thought the sound crew did a spectacular job. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sound as good at the Coliseum before.