So what, you say? Well, partly because if I have spare time and money I tend to go to the theatre, and partly because I secretly find the whole process of gig-attendance quite stressful, and mostly because I’m now middle-aged, it’s an unusual occurrence these days.
On a side note, the stress is usually about the unknown nature of the whole experience – gigs don’t have definite start times, you’re never sure what to do with your stuff, I never seem to have the right clothes, and if, like me, you’re a visual person you never really know where to look when the music starts. When you analyse it, the whole experience is actually quite weird (and this from the woman who has quite happily spent 3 hours wearing a mask running around a warehouse in the pursuit of an immersive theatrical experience). Twice. If that has piqued your interest, you can find out more about Punchdrunk here.
However, I digress. Once I had figured out what to wear and made my peace with having to cart my handbag around the space all night, I began to look forward to seeing one of my heroes on stage again. Martin Smith was the lead singer of Delirious?, a band whose lyrics and music had always stirred something deep within me. Somehow, when I listened to them in the car, experienced them live in a huge crowd or lay on the floor at home allowing them to speak truth over me, I connected with God in a way that wasn’t ethereal and detached, but raw and truthful.
In a sense Martin Smith and his band provided a soundtrack to my 20’s, so:
I’ve walked down a road where the devil’s been
Where the kids have seen things they should never have seen
And the ancient stone knows the deeper tale
About a bloody game, they called the holy war
Heaven is my home and there’ll be no shame to bear
Heaven is my home and there’ll be no refugees
resonated, because sometimes I needed reminded of the heavenly home that was waiting for me, and for the children I worked with who had seen things they should never have seen.
And later, when I left home, work and all that was familiar to pursue a crazy path of drama training in the big smoke, it helped to remind myself that:
You, still captivate me, fascinate me
You still captivate me, saturate me
You still captivate me, liberate me
You still captivate me
So, although I was looking forward to experiencing the God’s Great Club tour, I was a little apprehensive that I might be disappointed. Maybe Smith would have lost that magnetic stage presence and the middle-aged Edinburgh crowd would shuffle home feeling sad that our glory days had passed. In the event, despite the handbag-carting and the oddly bright lighting, we were not disappointed. He still had it. Our glory days were not past. We could still be history makers in this land, speakers of truth to all mankind.
As I belted out the classics and allowed my heart to melt to some newer songs, I reflected on why I respond to this music. It’s not just that Martin Smith has an ease and energy when he performs that make for a good night out. It’s not just that the music is written to stir a spiritual response.
It has something to do with integrity and the presence of God.
It has something to do with lyrics that connect with the heart of humble worship before God and the desire to be part of something bigger and better. These words and this music tell my story and God’s story.
The evangelists among us sometimes get frustrated with worship music. We want to be out there telling people, not hanging around with a bunch of Christians singing mushy songs. It’s fine for the prophets, pastors and teachers, but we want to get active. Now. There’s not a minute to lose. Of course, that’s a gross exaggeration and a dangerous path towards self-reliance, but those of you who have a gift of evangelism will understand what I’m talking about.
What Martin Smith has always been good at is speaking truth about God to the hearts of people who love his world. He’s a missional worship leader in the sense that his songs allow us to tarry in the place of awe and wonder, but don’t let us wander into a place of safe introspection. Look on God, then look on his world. Mission is the response to encounter. Music to the ears of those who long to see God’s kingdom break into the world of need and shame.
If not us who will shout
Your song of praise
For every soul to be saved
So we must keep the faith
not backing down
We must live the faith
This is our time
I’m glad I went gigging on a chilly Tuesday evening, because I left having met with God in an underground vault off the Cowgate and with a renewed sense of God’s call to his world. And a deep gratitude for guys like Martin Smith who continue to speak truth to my generation, and those who come after.
And like the Creative Fool that I am, I left wanting to us all to be able write, perform and worship like that. Who else wants to join me and make some history?