November 6, 1998: At St. Matthew's Methodist Church in Belleville, IL
Reviewed by: Josh Renaud
To see a few concert pictures, click here.
It's accurate to say that many people wrote off Petra long ago, and haven't listened to them in years.
All I can say is, those people sure are missing out!
In the past three months, I have seen Petra in concert twice. I came away from both concerts brain a-spinning, palms and leg muscles sore, and emotionally excited and enthused.
"Petra hasn't been any good since 'Beyond Belief,'" many have said. While I don't agree with that statement, I will admit to being disappointed in Petra's decision to tone down their sound.
The truth of the matter is that Petra may be better now than they have ever been before. If you have not heard Petra live, do yourself a huge favor and check their concert schedule to see when they will be playing in your area. PETRA ROCKS!
Petra's three newest members are Pete Orta (lead guitars), Kevin Brandow (guitars, keyboards, and bg vocals), and Lonnie Chapin (bass and bg vocals). These guys are talented, they are young, they are energetic, and best of all, they are now a real part of Petra. At their recent St. Louis concert, I was blown away by how far they've come.
When I saw them in Kansas City, I was impressed. I had gone into that show with serious doubts that this new version of the band would be able to rock my socks off. I left that evening in awe of Petra and of God's mighty hand in their work. In St. Louis, two months later, the band was performing twenty times better, and now I am hooked!
All the classic Petra songs they played, ranging from a medley of Volz-era favorites to songs like "He Came, He Saw, He Conquered," and "Beyond Belief"; all of these songs were incredible live. With the exception of Beyond Belief, the songs sounded very close to their original versions, but with even more raw energy and power.
"Beyond Belief" is the only song they played differently than its original recorded version. Instead it had an incredible double-guitar intro that blew me out of the water. The song itself was terrific.
Schlitt's voice still soars to its incredible sonic heights. But what impressed me the most was not his voice or his stage presence or his ability to play with the audience. It was his sharing the gospel bit by bit throughout the night, culminating in an awesome altar call at the end that I enjoyed the most.
I think that is what I liked the best about the concert. Many of the negative comments I read about Petra on this newsgroup seem to be written by people who are ignorant of what Petra is today or the real focus behind Petra's ministry. Not only is Petra doing terrific shows, but they are leading kids to Christ. Petra has a powerful message, and I doubt any "Christian" band touring right now can match their incredible presentation.
Petra is not about being a great band. Petra is a ministry first, and a band second. Sure, they have been through great shifts in personnel over the years. But that is just part of being led by God. You have to be adaptable. And I believe God is getting ready to use Petra in a mighty way again.
Their music is incredible, the band is really starting to gel and jam, and there is a strong possibility they will be putting out a live album next year. If that happens, I encourage all of you to check it out. You definitely won't regret it. If anything, it will convince you that Petra is back and better than ever.