September 7, 2002: Night of Joy at Walt Disney World
Reviewed by: Shawn Corcoran
Night of Joy is a unique experience for concert-goers because all the artists perform multiple short shows at various venues throughout the Magic Kingdom. It was even more exceptional this year for Petra fans because they got to watch a six-man band that included Bob Hartman along with the current touring group of John, Louie, Greg, Quinton, and Bryce. (Petra trivia - they performed at the first Night of Joy, which was 20 years ago!)
For a long time Petra fan like myself, it was a glorious night, and I know the rest of the crowd felt the same way. I'm 30 years old, so I was in front of the stage with a lot of folks my age, as well as many young teens. However, I looked around to see many fans older than me in the seats, accompanied by their young children who were having the same fun as their parents!
I admit I was fully prepared for the concert to pale in comparison to the shows I saw during the height of their popularity in the early 90's. However, I couldn't have been more wrong!!! The newer members blended well with the old guard, and Bob played like he'd never been gone. They played both old and new songs with crunch and energy, staying faithful to the basic tunes, but not afraid to throw in some twists, including several spots where the entire band paused for two beats, then blasted off again in unison.
I admired the new members, not only for their instrumental skill and excellent background vocals, but also for their respect of the classic songs they played. They did not try to show off their own chops at the expense of the originals we all know and love.
Quinton did some great leads here and there, but was content to play mostly rhythm while Bob cranked out the old solos. This was a special treat for me, and my main reason for traveling all the way from Richmond, Virginia to Orlando, Florida. I've always felt that, while there may be some guitarists with more technical skill than Bob, he certainly plays the most melodic and enjoyable solos I've heard from anyone, secular or Christian. Overall, having two guitar parts along with the keys, bass, and drums added a whole new depth and excitement to the show. However, I am convinced that Quinton can handle the job, even when Bob's not there.
John sang with more power and conviction than ever, and Louie drummed with such intensity that I'm surprised he didn't break some drum heads! He even did a short solo which reminded me of the days of old. It must have been the excitement of being on Mickey Mouse's home turf!
The first 45-minute set started out with "The Noise We Make", followed immediately by Bob launching solo into the opening riff of "Judas Kiss". The band then joined in for a medley of that song with "Rose-colored Stained Glass Windows." They went on to play several more praise songs from both Revival and Petra Praise 2 like "Amazing Grace," "Oasis", and "Lord I Lift Your Name on High." They also covered the early 90's with "Creed", "Beyond Belief," and "Praying Man," ending with another classic (and one of my personal favorites) "He Came, He Saw, He Conquered."
After a half-hour break, Petra was back for their second set. Knowing that some of the audience may have been at other shows during the first set, they did a good job of altering their song choices while still playing "must-haves" like "Judas Kiss" and "Beyond Belief." New songs included "Dance," "Enter In," "More Than a Thousand Words," and "Send Revival, Start with Me." Then they finished with "He Came, He Saw" again, but I tell you it was just as good the second time around. Unfortunately, the time constraints laid down by Disney did not allow for an encore or any visiting with fans, but everybody left happy anyway. Seeing both Petra shows meant I could only see parts of the other artists' shows (Michael W. Smith, Audio Adrenaline, Jaci Velasquez, and Joy Williams) but that was a small price to pay.
Petra still has the ability to move their audience, not just to dance and sing along, but also to rejoice and praise our Lord. The worship experience stems not from the trance-like repetition of the same chorus over and over (as is the case with many of today's "worship" albums). Rather, the high level of their song-writing and performing combine with their intelligent, Scripture-based lyrics to glorify God in a unique way. May God continue to bless their ministry.