Monday, January 11, 2010

John Schlitt Live in Cambridge!

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On November 22, 2009 my wife Lauretta and I went to our first ever John Schlitt solo concert at Silverheights School in Cambridge, Ontario. John was the lead singer for the bands Head East and Petra. I had seen Petra a handful of times starting with the Beyond Belief tour and ending with the Farewell tour in 2005. Through my teen years up to the present, John has been one of my spiritual heroes.

The show got underway just after 7 pm, with a three piece worship band from the church ( A young gal with a pink guitar was accompanied by a drummer and another guitarist. They led us in two loud worship numbers, the first of which was a Hillsong tune. There were about one hundred people in attendance, of all ages, which was nice to see.

John Schlitt came out around 7:15 wearing a black sportsjacket, a black t-shirt from 'Not of this World Clothing', and a pair of blue jeans. He definitely is looking older, and now wears glasses, but he looks in better shape than on the Farewell tour, trimmer and more muscular. He performed with tracks and guitarist David Teems, who would also be in his fifties I would guess, and may be working on a book on Schlitt's life.

Schlitt opened the night with the song 'Gravity' which speaks of God keeping us grounded despite all the different directions the world can pull us. The song also served to warm up his voice which he said had been tested on this Ontario tour which also included stops in Barrie, Bradford, and Burlington.

Next up, was 'God is too Big' from his second solo disc 'Unfit for Swine' from 1996, which was his foray into alternative rock. Schlitt told the story of how he had high hopes for the song at the time, but some radio programmers had complaints that it sounded like Schlitt was singing 'God is Stupid' and the song got pulled from rotation. It makes for a good story though. Schlitt had a boy around eight years old join him on stage to yell 'God is too Big' on the chorus. Quite a treat for the boy and his parents!

'Show me the Way' from his first solo disc 'Shake' from 1995, was next. It is an adult contemporary ballad with the same message as Amy Grant's 'Lead me On' or Smitty's 'Place in this World'. Two songs from 'The Grafting' cd, 2008, were next. The first was 'The Grafting', a song very close to Schlitt's heart, as he has five grandkids via adoption. He is so thankful the mothers did not choose abortion. The song also talks of how God grafts us into His family through the blood of Christ. 'Only Men', another ballad, speaks of the fact that there is only one true God to be worshipped. Schlitt said back in his early days with Petra he was in Europe and couldn't believe how Christians were made fun of over there. He said fast-forward to today and it's happening over here. He believes North America is the last bastion of Christian freedom. He said the Bible doesn't call Christians to be doormats. The way Schlitt reads the Bible, his Jesus didn't walk around in slippers and let people walk all over Him. Christians shouldn't be 'fluff and puff' people. Jesus got angry when people turned His Father's house into a marketplace! Schlitt also said he was not a big fan of President Obama's policies.

It was a real treat when for tracks six and seven Schlitt reached into the Petra catalogue and did 'Just Reach Out', and their signature song, 1990's 'Beyond Belief'. The crowd really came alive, including myself, during this one. A couple of times during the show, he pointed at me (we were in the third row), and I was apparently looking pretty excited, and wearing my 'I'm a Pethead' t-shirt. Schlitt stressed the importance of growing after we become Christians. We will never be perfect, but we should grow. Next up was the popular worship chorus 'Trading my Sorrows' from II Guys from Petra, which in my eyes was Petra's fourth worship project. Schlitt ended the night with 'Inside of You', which speaks of the wonders God can do in each of us. Schlitt encouraged those who did not have a personal relationship with Christ or had fallen away a bit, to talk to him afterwards or to to one of the pastors.

After the concert some of the people from the church laid hands on John and David, and a prayer was offered for their ministry. I should add that David was a great guitarist/sidekick. I was able to shake hands with John after the show and finally after all of these years got a picture with him thanks to my beautiful wife Lauretta!