Louisville Kentucky Octboer 24, 1995

Louisville Kentucky Octboer 24, 1995

by Allen Howieb

The Courier Journal in Louisville, KY

Tuesday isn't usually a church night, but a little slice of heaven seemed to open up in Memorial Auditorium anyway as Rich Mullins, touring behind his newest album, brouht his lively show to Louisville last night.

To many, Mullins is one of a handful of Christian artists who mix their message with music that's equally engaging.

His two-hour show displayed the depth of his writing, his talents as a singer and multi-instrumentalist and his excellent band.

Playing material from most of his albums, Mullins moved from keyboard to hammered dulcimer and back again, bolstered by the taut rhythm section of a band that grew or shrank as the song warranted. Whether calling up the moody "Save Me," the spiky Celtic reel of "Cry Your Name" from the new album, the insistent pulse of "I See You" or the rock 'n' roll of "Let Mercy Lead," Mullins and his fellow musicians kept the music as focused as the words.

Plenty of favorites were served up for the faithful, including the U2-ish "One Thing," a ringing "Sometimes by Step" and a version of "Creed" that proved Mullins takes the notion of "hammered" dulcimer literally.

The highlight was one of the songer's best tunes, "Boy like Me/Man Like You," done up as a gentle blue-grass number whose breezy picking and crisp harmonies sounded right at home in Kentucky.

The new material received a warm response as well, from the title track, "Brother's Keeper," and the rumble of "Quoting Deuteronomy to the Devil" to the gleaming pop of "Damascus Road."

Opening the show with sterling sets were Canadian Carolyn Arends, a rising star with a couple of hits of her own on Christian radio, and Ashley Cleveland, who is also a sought-after Nashville session singer.

Arends' four-song set included her sings "Seize the Day" and "Love is Always There," while Celveland's blend of Annie Lennox and Melissa Etheridge served her bluesy set well.