October 23, 2017

Caedmon’s Call: London, Ky 11/3/04

Just returned from seeing Caedmon’s Call with about a 100 OBI students and staff. A few reflections on the concert and the new CD in extended comments.

I am a fan of CC. I like what they do. They have a unique musical approach, and they have stuck with their own sound and path for over a decade. Whatever commercial success they have enjoyed is totally against the grain of the contemporary Christian music culture that dominates evangelicalism today.

CC actually writes literate, poetic, often highly narrative songs, with no evidence of outside, “Nashville” style production. They express their faith in marvelously creative ways while staying with a very acoustic, folk-influenced style. They are a lyric driven band that tells stories and shares poems, rather than pandering to the usual interests of the typical CCM radio format.

The 800 people gathered tonight were clearly in the mood to hear CC do a “Praise and Worship” set. They were going to be disappointed, as easily half of the show came from their new CD “Share the Well.” “Share” is an excursion into world music, with CC writing and recording the 17 cuts in three different countries and filling the album with world instruments and sounds. The band had several internationals playing with them tonight, making for some truly awesome percussion sets.

CC also doesn’t do the usual manipulation of the crowd with a show and an emotional altar call. While they have excellent lights and sound, everything in the concert is very relaxed and casual, with little to no preaching or exhorting of the audience to get emotional. Frankly, the lyrics are hard to understand live, and the crowd didn’t know any of the songs until near the end, when the band headed into some P&W and radio material. It was very odd to realize these people were not at all interested in acting like music stars. They were regular folks doing what they loved.

Instead of giving the usual CCM circus, they shared- through music- their involvement with ministries to the Dalit people of India. Several songs were related to India, videos portrayed the band’s visits there, and two Indian musicians were featured throughout the evening. Because our family is involved in supporting ministry in India, we were obviously very connected with what CC was sharing. I can’t say the same for the rest of the crowd.

CC is a large group, with lots of vocal trade offs and various instruments changing between songs. Still, the basic CC sound dominates every song, and even with some hat tips to more “rock” oriented numbers, the band often was simply sitting around playing guitars on the floor in front of 800 people.

There are some GREAT songs on this record. Political lyrics. Spiritual lyrics. Touching lyrics. Superb rhythms. Which leads me to one question: How is CC without Derek Webb?

No doubt, Derek’s presence is missed vocally and on stage. Cliff Young is a talented and gifted writer and singer, but he is not the confident, challenging speaker Derek Webb is. I think this will come along, but there was a bit of a hole in the presence of the group that will take a while to fill.

I am very encouraged by what I hear from CC. They are God centered, missionary, political, poetic, honest and devoted to their own vision of music and minsitry. They have 12 years of ministry behind them, and show a demonstrated willingness to take the risks of being Christians and authentic artists. Christian music is blessed to have this great band still growing and creating. I want to urge everyone to get “Share the Well,” and to support the work with the Dalit people in some way. CC is setting a direction that we should applaud and follow.

Comments

  1. Justin VanNingen says:

    They’re live on the radio here in the Twin Cities right now. They gave the two Indian musicans a chance to do some music from their country, which was a highlight. Too bad I can’t make it to the concert tonight…

  2. Excellent! Not that I was going to miss getting their next CD anyway 🙂

  3. If you would like to help the Dalit people look at http://www.dalitchild.com

  4. I saw CC in Rockford last year and was terribly disappointed. I have always loved their music but never seen them live until that time. What disappointed me was that Cliff Young seemed to have nothing at all to say. He stumbled through a pitch for their charity and said a word or two about God but it lacked the substance of their simplest song. Your comment about him vs. Derek Webb helps that make more sense now, but I have to say that though it was technically proficient, the show was uninspired to me. It’s strange how the show just killed my enjoyment of their music.