Mark Schultz/Avalon Concert

Matthew West
I must confess, Mr West
Did not strike my…interest.
He sang every word, even when talking,
Which he not only did between songs
But during songs, too.
I still can’t help but feel bad for performers, though,
When they try to get audience participation
But the audience is mega-lame
And when no one wants their autograph
After the show.
I don’t expect much from him in the future
And imagine he’ll have to go back to North Dakota (inside joke)
To play his music after too long.

Mark Schultz
This is what I came to the show for and, like FFH, boy was I disappointed when he began. Seems Mark, too, is a little nasally in concert. I don’t necessarily understand when this is the case. Surely someone along the way told these people they are too nasally. Luckily he wasn’t always that way, just when trying to sing some higher parts. Which, actually, is a good portion of his show. Either way, I overcame the obstacle because I like his music and his lyrics. He is a rather funny guy in between songs for a couple of reasons. When the song is over he puts on a shy façade while the applause and praise is going on. Jody McBrayer from Avalon pointed that out when he came out to talk for World Vision after the set. Mark also is funny in a humorous way in his between-song discussions. He made a lot of jokes, which I can’t remember now, but he was an overall funny guy. Someone had placed a Happy Meal toy (at least that’s what he said it was) on his piano and Mark proceeded to make a big deal out of the toy for the rest of his set. He brought it from the piano to they keyboard saying that he had grown quite attached to it rather suddenly. At one point he took it back to the piano and asked what he had done all his life without the toy.

Mark tried out a new song on us, the name something to the effect of “He Was Walking Her Home”. It is beautiful, really. The guy falls in love with the girl at the beginning of the song while walking her home (then he hums a few lines because he hasn’t written them yet) then at the end of the song the couple are in different rooms at a nursing home and the woman comes to stand outside the guy’s door and he has to walk her “home” (to her room) and sit by her side in order for her to fall asleep. As I said, it was beautiful, but made me sad to think of a day in the future when I might not have my wife to cuddle up to at the end of the night. 🙁

We had gone into the night hoping Mark would play the Legend of McBride (bottom CD) (which he didn’t) and my wife mentioned that to him after the show in the autograph line reminding him that the CD liner notes mention that the song is near and dear to his heart (since, as he says, the song is about a place that never existed and a fire that never happened). I only asked if he was going to write about the Portland stop on his website, which he said he should (and he did!) and showed interest that I visited the site. I really wish I could have talked to him longer, there was a bunch of stuff I wanted to say. I never get a chance the ‘hang’ with the band, though. Such is my life. Those of you who do shouldn’t take it for granted.

Jody McBrayer and World Vision
Before the intermission Jody came out and talked for a good while about World Vision, and organization that helps children in Africa whose parents die of AIDS. He was a lot funnier than I expected him to be, while at the same time being a little feminine sounding.

All in all I would call him a humble guy, regardless of all the fame surrounding him and Avalon.

After he was done talking, I had to run to the car to get an Avalon CD liner for the autographing after the show. From the beginning I was focused only on the Mark Schultz part of the concert, so only brought that CD liner in to the show with me. My wife corrected me before the intermission.

Avalon (Yes I did just link it. Deal.)
I didn’t know that Avalon was going to be at this concert until I called to order tickets for the Mark Schultz concert, but honestly it was an added bonus except for the fact that since Avalon was the headliner that meant Mark’s set wasn’t be as long as I expected it to be. They came out onto stage and went right at it, singing four or so songs before even stopping to take a breath. I would say that it is admirable that fame hasn’t gone too far into their show; they are not flashy and only have some colored lighting for special effects. Greg Long immediately ingratiated himself into my heart by wearing flip-flops during the show (he was also wearing pleather pants, but I willing to overlook that in my flip-flop wearing brother…for now). He was the one with the most energy and was the most showy, which I thought was interesting since he was the new guy in the band. I do like Greg’s voice and have to admit that I’m impressed with the guy who recorded “We Love You Jesus”.

The band that they had with them was pretty good; they also played with Mark Schultz. As usual, the best talent goes under appreciated in bands. The people were playing perfect renditions of both Mark Schultz and Avalon songs. The drummer was also a soul-full fellow wailing on the drums with enough pizzazz to catch even my wife’s attention.

At the end of the show, in the autograph line (I think autograph lines are really cool, we never had those in any ‘secular’ concerts I went to, and I attended a good number) Greg Long was still as full of pep as ever. He reminds me of how little dogs are always full of energy while bigger dogs get tired quickly. Greg, thin, and young guy for someone who has been in the business a while, was sitting straight up honestly thanking everyone for attending and looking like he wanted to have a personal conversation with every fan, though the people running the autograph line let us know from the start to keep it moving so everyone had a chance to get through before the end of the week…

I would have to say I came away from the Avalon concert thinking of them a lot less as stars and more as regular people. Jody portrayed that during his World Vision talk, and Greg, while flashy on stage, gave off the impression with his flip-flops and his caring attitude after the show.

All in all a rather good show, while maybe not quite as good as the Warren Barfield/Big Daddy Weave/FFH show. I have no real complaints.

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