Newsboys still top Christian Rock

By Eric Seymour

Christian music--especially in the alternative and rock genres--is now at its highest popularity ever, and is still growing. (For an earlier article about the history of Christian music, click here.) The average crowd for a Christian rock concert is equal to that in the secular music industry. As a good example, thousands of young people from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky converged upon the Monroe County Fairgrounds earlier this month for the YouthFest christian music festival.

The Newsboys, a rock band from Australia, were one of the bands that first propelled Christian music into a major entertainment force, and still lead the charts and sell out concerts from coast to coast. Their newest release, "Step Up to the Microphone," represents a turning point for the band, with greater musical maturity and a broad range of styles.

With the departure of former lead singer John James, the band is now led by drummer Peter Furler. When he's not spending his time inside a hydraulic rotating drum cage, Furler demonstrates remarkable musical versatility on lead vocals or guitars. Furler also brings a new, often edgier style to the songs on the album, many of which he had a hand in writing, and as the album's producer.

As usual, the album excels both in musical and lyrical quality. The sound of the music nicely complements the message in the words. The style on this album is reminiscent at times of the European rock of the 80's, such as Yes (on the song "WooHoo") and the early work of U2 (on "The Tide".)

The mood of the songs on the album reflects the range of experiences in the Christian life, from the energetic and upbeat "WooHoo" and "Tuning In" to the reflective and emotional "Always." The Newsboys are not afraid to stand up for their faith, as they proclaim in "Believe":

...and in this world turning gray,
strikes a chord when I say;
there is black, there is white,
there is wrong and there is right.

"Deep End" and "Hallelujah" are about a person coming to faith in Christ and seeking to live a God-pleasing life, described from the perspective of other people and of God.

One of the album's closing songs is part of what some call a new kind of worship for a new generation. "The Tide" is a heartfelt expression of a person's relationship with God:

I know the waves will come
by the moon and the tide
like a man and his bride.
I will wait on you Lord
and we will run so far from here;
to your safety in the storm.

I can honestly say that "Step Up to the Microphone" is the best album yet from the Newsboys. They will be on tour through mid-December, and will play at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis at 7:30 PM, Thursday November 19. Charge-by-phone: 317-239-5151. Buy online: www.ticketmaster.com. For other tour dates, look at www.newsboys.com (Shockwave plug-in required).

Eric Seymour

Robert Schiener

Joel Corbin