Venue: Oceanway Assembly of God, Jacksonville, Fla.
Artists: Ascension Worship
I did not plan on ever doing any concert reviews for events that are just local ones. Originally I was just going to do reviews of tours that are going around the United States or even the world, but I decided that I really wanted to review the Hope is Alive Tour which is done by Ascension Worship. The tour is through all of 2012 and will be held one Friday night a month at a different church in Jacksonville, Fla. The band is comprised of a bunch of different people from local churches and has been playing for the last two or three years I think. They recently released a live album from their Recollect Tour last year, which I was actually in attendance for. (Look for a review of the album in the near future!)
March 16, Ascension kicked off their tour at Oceanway Assembly of God, a church that has recently been going through changes to become more contemporary. The church looked really nice and had a really awesome stage and lighting. Peter Dearing opened up for Ascension with an acoustic worship set that really surprised me. He did an amazing job, which I should have expected though, because usually they have really good musicians open for them. (The last time I saw them, Corey Kilgannon opened for them, which was pretty spectacular.) Niki Dawson did guest vocals on most of the songs with him, and later I found out while doing research for this review that she was on NBC's The Voice last year, which blew my socks off. They both did a great job, and their song choices were really good too.
After a five minute break, Ascension came on singing their song, "Hope is Alive." The next two songs the band played were personal favorites of mine: "Love Came Down" by Bethel Music, and "Song of Hope (Heaven Come Down)" by Robbie Seay Band. They started off really well with those three songs and it really warmed up the evening. After those three songs Blake Bennett, Minister of Emerging Generations at Journey Church in Pone Vedra, Fla. came up and gave a 20-25 message. He spoke on hope, since that is the theme of the tour. His sermon fit in perfectly with the mood of the evening, and he mixed humor in well with his message. I personally prefer expository preaching over topical, but most guys who do events like these do not preach in an expository way, which is completely fine with me. Either way, he brought the message very well and it corresponded perfectly with the theme of the tour.
After the message and the invitation, Ascension came back out singing "Great I Am," by New Life Worship and , "Wonderful Cross," which is on their latest live CD. After that they sang, "Never Once" by Matt Redman, which is a beautiful worship song that I have loved ever since I heard it on his latest release, 10,000 Reasons (Live). They followed that up with the best song of the night, "One Thing Remains," off Bethel Music's 2012 release, The Loft Sessions. They did a phenomenal job with the track, and it made for a very emotional part of the concert.
The last three songs of the night are all on their new album: "Rooftops," "For Your Name," and "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble." It was a wonderful night of worship where I believe everyone came away feeling closer to God. The night was a special one, and I loved that even though it was a big show, you could definitely feel that the focus was on God and being closer to Him. The thing I look for most in a concert is what the focus of the night is. If the focus is on the band and how awesome they sound, then it is really not that great of a concert. If the focus is on glorifying God, building up the body of Christ, and witnessing to nonbelievers, then I believe it is a successful concert. Ascension did a great job, and I highly suggest checking these guys out if you live in Jacksonville. If not, I encourage you to find out if there are any local worship bands like Ascension near you. They are usually worth going to see, and they are almost always great shows.
Ascension Set List:
- Hope is Alive - Ascension Worship
- Love Came Down - Bethel Music
- Song of Hope (Heaven Come Down) - Robbie Seay Band
- Great I Am - New Life Worship
- Wonderful Cross - Ascension Worship
- Never Once - Matt Redman
- One Thing Remains - Bethel Live
- Rooftops - Ascension Worship
- For Your Name - Ascension Worship
- Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble - Ascension Worship