DA Transcends Stereotypical Rock

CCM May 1982

D.A. Transcends Stereotypical Rock

CCM May 1982

by Lori E Pike

Daniel Amos has never been a conventional Christian band. From the group's wacky hijinks on stage to it's piquant, futuristic muisc, DA has always seemed intent on pressing past the boundaries of staid, sterotypical Christian rock and on towards breaking new ground.

Fans who made their way to California Lutheran College's auditoirum/gym (March 19, 1982) were probably highly curious as to what the D.A. boys would spring on them this time.

And this is what they found: gone are the days of dangling-eyeball glasses and cowboy hats. But alive and thriving is a sinewy power quartet of musicians and singers that plays driving, throughtful Christian new-wave rock.

The opening artist for the evening concert was Andy Pratt, who hails from Boston. Imagine a singer who combines a few of the more interesting performance traits of Bob Dylan, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill and Leo Sayer, and you'll have a pretty good idea of how Pratt sounded in concert.

His voice is smooth, unusual and highly emotive. Pratt's frequent shifts into falsetto underscore the emotional tension present in many of his songs. The audience gladly followed Pratt for the whole ride of his 11-song set, and cheered in true appreciation at the close.

After a brief intermission and without any fanfare, Daniel Amos stepped onstage and crashed into a rousing version of "I Love You #19." Then they were off and rocking into a heavy-metal-tinged tune called "I'm On Your Team," and a song off the Alarma! album called "Faces to the Window," which talked about the Christian responsibility to demonstrate love to our neighbors.

Musically, Daniel Amos was in tight form, Ed McTaggart laid down a solid, driving beat on drums, Jerry Chamberlain coaxed some scathing notes from his shocking blue guitar, New bass player Tim Chandler, who recently replaced veteran Marty Dieckmeyer, fleshed out the rhythms with chunky, battering chords.

Frontman Terry Taylor contributed rhythm guitar and most importantly lead vocals for all of the songs. On this night, like always, Taylor was a pleasure to listen to. His versatile voice enabled him to carry off both snarling rockers and tender slow songs with complete conviction.

The key to Daniel Amos' progressive, guitar-dominated sound is thunderous energy - and therein lies a major problem. All too often, despite Taylor's careful efforts to enunciate, the sheer volume of the music drowned out the words to the songs. This is particularly frustrating for the audience in view of the fact that DA's lyrics are some of the most ingenious in Christian rock today.

Aside from that, the radically rocking, new-wave stance suits these four fellows quite well. What their musical sound occasionally lacks in texture and variety (due to the elemental drums-guitar-no keyboards line up), it compensates for with nerve and spirit.

It was reassuring to see D.A.'s crazy sense of humor is still in tact. Taylor and Chamberlain had a grand old time mugging, rolling their eyes, doing synchronized guitar struts and just generally camping it up on stage.

Daniel Amos is the band that recognizes the value of entertainment in conjunction with ministry, and they encourage audience participation on several songs. For instance, the band invited everyone to display their favorite swim/surf motions as it cranked out a killer trio of "Near Sighted Girl with Approaching Tidal Wave," "Endless Summer" and "Surfin USA."

The audience was also delighted to participate in a "song about priorities" called "New Car." On cue, the more boisterous members of the crowd sprange out of their seats and screamed "NEW CAR! NEW STATION WAGON!" in their most convincing game show voices.

Daniel Amos debuted several songs off the forthcoming LP, Doppelganger, including the satirical "I Didn't Build It For Me" and the absurd yet-thought-provoking "Mall All Over the World." The latter painted a pitiful picture of the earth in the future, in which one tremendous shopping mall encompasses the globe, or, as Terry ominously phrased it, "East meets West in a maze of pleasure."

Okay, so these guys can play blistering new wave and they still remember how to deliver punchy musical jokes. But can they also cut the comedy and level with the audience about the importance and exhiliration of knowing God? No need to fear - they can, and do.

And while D.A.'s catchy songs are extremely effective instruments for communicating God's love, the most moving moments of the concert occurred between songs, when Terry Taylor spoke with honesty and insight.

"In a crowd this size, there are people hurting deep down inside, and the only one who can heal that is Jesus Christ," he said as he introduced a song.

"Our pride and our ego often don't allow for transparency," he continued. "One of the greatest problems in the body of Christ is that we don't want to let go. Even as Christians, so often we're still actors and actresses, putting on our masks.

"In that the world will see our love," Taylor concluded. As the band gently played the introduction to "The Lord Has Open Arms." Taylor dedicated the song to "those of you have needs in your heart."

There was a percetible quietness in the audience as people contemplated what he said.

Taylor's words before a repirse of "I Love You" represented the sincerity and dedication of the entire band to Christ: "Our prayer before we come on is always that this would be more than just a concert - that we can share with each other," he said.

As their part of the sharing, the appreciative audience members coaxed D.A. back on the stage for four encores, including "Through the Speakers," and "Real Thing."

After a night of such meaningful music, it seemed fully appropriate that Daniel Amos closed by leading everyone in a few heartfelt choruses of "Praise the Lord."