Matthew West takes Indy Into The Light

Fans are always looking for ways to be a part of their favorite artists’ music and artists are always trying to find a way to make fans part of their music as well. A few years ago when Matthew West opened the doors for fans to send in their life stories for him to read for song inspiration, he got an overwhelming response. West thought he’d get a couple hundred- he got over 25,000 stories from fans and, needless to say, he had more than enough inspiration for his Story of Your Life album.  The letters from the first writing session spawned some of the most heart-hitting, life-changing and uplifting songs of West’s career- if not of all time. Songs like “My Own Little World,” “Strong Enough” and “Two Houses” were birthed from the letters. There were so many stories that needed to be told that West wrote a follow-up record, Into the Light, which included even more ultra-inspiring songs like “Forgiveness” and “Hello, My Name Is,” which, teamed up with its predecessor, catapulted West to headlining status on numerous tours and festivals and helped him become a fan favorite. West’s latest tour, Into the Light Tour, features support from Jason Castro and Sidewalk Prophets, a lineup CCM fans have become very familiar with and which features a plethora of uplifting and inspiring stories and songs. Recently the tour stopped off at The Caring Place church in Indianapolis and opened with a set from Jason Castro that epitomized everything being an opener is all about. He got the crowd’s attention, got them going, and pumped them up for the next two artists, Sidewalk Prophets and Matthew West- both of whom would take the energy from Castro’s set and take it to another level. Sidewalk Prophets followed Castro with a set which showcased everything they’re all about. Sidewalk Prophets always show the crowd their appreciation and leave it all on the stage. Frontman Dave Frey knows exactly how to capture the audience’s attention and hold them in the palm of his hand to get the band’s point and message across. Many frontmen show their emotions throughout the set but Frey amplifies that with a huge smile pretty much from start to finish. [lg_slideshow folder=\”2013/Into the Light Tour/Sidewalk Prophets/\”] In Indianapolis, their set was both intimate and explosive at the same time and saw the band showing every side of themselves. At one point they even brought out Jason Castro for an acoustic/a cappella song that sent chills through the audience. By the time Sidewalk Prophets left the stage the fans were cheering for more from them even though Matthew West was up next. West took the stage pretty quickly, with only 10 minutes or so between bands and the set starting at 8:30- very early for a headliner. It’s a good thing, though, since he played for almost two hours. He opened with “The Motions” and “More,” two older songs from two albums ago, which got the crowd going right off the bat. West not only has the stage presence of a true professional but he knows how to entertain the fans and make them laugh too, cracking jokes in between almost every song. Since his last two albums were based on people’s stories, he took time to tell a few of his own, the first pertaining to a young boy. There was a boy from Greenwood, Ind. whose birthday was the day of the concert and he’s a huge Matthew West fan- so big of a fan that he had a Matthew West-themed birthday party. His birthday wish was that West would come to his party- he had no idea West was actually playing a show in Indianapolis that night, which is less than 30 miles away. West’s tour bus rolled up to the house and the boy came running out and gave West a huge hug and showed West his bedroom which had a drum set, guitars and more. The two jammed for a bit and then West gave the boy and everyone at the party tickets to the show and brought the boy on stage with him. He told another story about how he was supposed to play at a prison the same day but had to cancel because of the appearance for the youngster’s birthday but he told the story about the first time he played at a prison. He walked in and the escort told him the warden had approved him to play in a spot of the prison where they never allow visitors. He couldn’t even see his audience- all he could see is miles and miles of cells, but no people, so he didn’t know if anyone was even listening to him. He just sat there, played his songs and looked down. He looked up toward the end of his set and, for the first time, he saw his audience. One by one, the prisoners started coming to their cell doors and peering out. As West told this story, you could hear a pin drop in the church because of how silent it was- people were speechless and it was obvious people don’t realize how tough some people have it. He continued to play a few more songs before bringing his wife and two daughters on stage to talk about Compassion International and sponsoring children on other countries, which led to an intermission during which West put his daughters to bed. [lg_slideshow folder=\”2013/Into the Light Tour/Matthew West/\”] After the intermission West told some of the stories behind songs like “Forgiveness,” “Hello, My Name Is,” “Two Houses” and others and even brought some of the people who the stories belonged to on stage for which there wasn’t a dry eye in the building. West ended the show with an alter call, an event which is almost lost in the Christian concert world these days, after which he wrapped up with “Strong Enough,” the perfect way to end the show. -Reggie Edwards