by MALLORY CARVER/Feature Editor
Hillsong United is often considered the best when it comes to Christian worship music.
Hillsong United made a stop in Lubbock on Feb. 20 during their “Empires” tour. The music, production, and the spirit of their show combined to make a powerful and moving experience.
From the people waiting in the huge lines outside the United Supermarkets Arena, to the VIP crowd at the meet-and-greet, everyone was overwhelmed with excitement for the upcoming show.
A band out of Ireland, Rend Collective, was the opening act. They opened with an energetic song filled with percussion. Ali Gilkeson, the percussionist, stood out to the audience. Her energy filled the room as she played everything from bass drums to sitar. She never played the same instrument for two songs, and danced around as she played each instrument.
Rend Collective also had a song that began with “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes. The bagpipes seemed to be a crowd favorite as well. When Rend Collective finished with their opening performance, which included songs, “My Lighthouse,” “Build Your Kingdom Here,” and “Joy of the Lord,” and several others, the crowd waited anxiously for Hillsong United to take the stage.
As Hillsong was setting up, one of the band members, Jonathon Douglass came out to welcome everyone, as well as to inform the audience about the struggle of people in Syria. He showed a video made by World Vision that talked about innocent people, including children, who were violently forced from their homes and now are living in tents with limited resources. He encouraged people to help the refugees by donating money to help provide clean water, education, food, health assistance, and other huge necessities for survival. The majority of the audience seemed eager and willing to provide help for the survivors in Syria.
When Hillsong took the stage, they were welcomed by a deafening roar from the audience.They explained that despite the hard work that they had put in to create a great stage-set and atmosphere, their main purpose was to lead people to Jesus.
The audience seemed to be deeply moved by the entire concert. When the band would stop playing, the crowd was still singing loudly on nearly every song.
Hillsong played a variety of their songs, including songs from their new album, “Empire,” along with a lot of their other well-known songs. They played “Oceans,” “Pursue/All I Need is You Medley,” and several other songs that majority of the crowd knew and loved.
Taya Smith, the lead female vocalist, blew the crowd away with the power she had in her voice. She brought tears to the eyes of everyone with the spirit and strength in her voice. It was apparent to everyone present that she was blessed with the ability to lead worship.
At one point in the concert, Joel Houston told the audience that they wanted to have communion, but since the crowd numbered more than 1,000, they would have one person take communion to represent everyone. The person they chose to represent everyone was a young man who was seated in the pit.
“I’ve seen you worshipping during this whole concert,” Houston told the boy. “I can tell that you have a soft heart, even though you’re a strong man.”
The young man seemed on the verge of tears as Houston spoke to him. When the bread and juice were handed to him, cellphone flashlights began to flicker around the arena. The lights came from the audience, who showed their support for the young man on stage by shining thousands of their own lights on to the stage. The number of people shining the tiny lights was enough to make the room glow a fluorescent white. The way the crowd stood together, illuminating the arena with thousands of lights, seemed to reiterate one of the verses often represented by Hillsong United: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14.
The concert was easy to appreciate. Alongside the spiritual atmosphere of the show, the stage set-up was impressive. The screens that worked as a backdrop were constantly changing and creating different visual effects. The music performed by both Hillsong United and Rend Collective went above and beyond most contemporary Christian music, which doesn’t often require much skill to play or sing.
I would give both bands 5 out of 5 stars, and would definitely pay to see them again.