After getting in at about 1:00 Wednesday morning, I started my NQC 2010 experience with the Gaither/EHSS showcase, which was well worth making the trip up to Louisville a day early. Some thoughts on the evening concerts:
1. The sound is actually decent this year. Granted, it’s not perfect, by any stretch; some of the showcases and evening performances had some issues, like David Phelps’ rendition of “He’s Alive” hitting a bump with a major sound glitch that almost blasted everybody out of the front door for about two seconds. But at least they’ve finally learned to mix it correctly and TURN THE MICS ON when a singer is holding it up to sing. Let’s hope this is my last mention of the sound this week.
2. Enjoyed the newer faces on mainstage tonight. I don’t believe Liberty Quartet has been on mainstage for an official set before this year (they were on for one song after being voted best artist for the Artist Spotlight showcases a couple years back), and I was impressed with their set. Dailey & Vincent got a great crowd response, and not even just for the fact that they had Christian Davis singing bass; they were darn good in their set.
3. Adding the live band is the best decision the Dove Brothers have made. Their sound as a group seems to be a bit better above the live instrumentation. Also worth noting: David Hester sounded better than I’ve ever heard him.
4. Gold City needs to hire Channing Eleton back. He fit like a glove with them, even on the newer material, and it’s almost like he never left as far as the accompaniment, which especially showed on the piano-only songs. His is a style that stands out on its own without overplaying or playing over the vocalists. That is exactly what a group with this vocal caliber needs.
5. Smart move on Daniel Riley’s part calling “I Stand Redeemed” during Gold City’s set. Nothing will endear a returning singer to the crowd’s heart more than a song that is still being requested ten years later. Bringing out the arrangement that will be featured on Gold City’s upcoming mainline release was a great decision twofold: it promotes their soon-to-be-released material, and it gives Cobb a chance to display how much he has improved as a vocalist over the years. Was the performance perfect? No. But that arrangement was killer, and Cobb showed why that will always be his signature song.
6. Was it just me, or did the higher end of the piano sound really off? It either needs to be tuned or a mic needs to be adjusted, but the sound was just weird, and almost ear-splitting at points on the higher notes. Having it sound that way for multiple pianists tells me the problem is in the instrument, not the players.