by Reggie Edwards
The Winter Jam Tour Spectacular is so popular and in such high demand that there had to be a second leg of the spring tour announced last fall. Shortly after the Winter Jam Fall Tour ended, the lineup for Winter Jam 2012 was announced and right away we knew it would be the biggest Winter Jam to date.
Talk about an understatement. This year was so big they had to turn people away by the thousands at most of the shows. I mean, what else would you expect from a lineup featuring We As Human, For King And Country, Dara MacLean, Group 1 Crew, Newsong (who hosted the event), Building 429, Kari Jobe, Peter Furler, Sanctus Real and headlined by Skillet and you’ve got one of the premier lineups in Christian music.
Skillet alone would bring in the capacity crowd, but when you throw in an illusionist in Brock Gill and charge only $10 cash at the door for admission and it’s no surprise Winter Jam was recently named the biggest tour in the world.
We As Human got the party going early with a superb set, the crowd didn’t seem too into it but I loved it. Especially when frontman Justin Cordle jumped off stage and started going through the crowd as he sang. These guys are good and they have definitely grown since I last saw them in November with Manafest, Disciple and Skillet.
For King and Country really took me offguard. They had a very distinct sound and used a great collection of instruments to perform, including a giant single bass drum and they had a disco ball on the side of the stage, which I found interesting. I’d say they were a great band to have on the lineup because they switched it up early and they’re definitely up and coming.
Group 1 Crew was different from virtually everyone on the lineup as they were more Black Eyed Peas-style. The lights went down and out came Manuel and Blanca, decked out in what looked like black dress suits. Then all of a sudden they hit a button and, unexpectedly, green lining appeared on their suits. If that wasn’t satisfying enough for us, the words that everyone knows, “Everyday I’m Shufflin’,” from LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” hit and the two started shufflin’ on stage to the music.
They proceeded to put on one of the most fun performances of the night, with their hip hop-style music and got the crowd hyped- the epitome of the right intro to get everyone amped for the rest of the night. The action was just starting.
Building 429 put on a set that had everyone moved, spiritually and physically. What stuck out to me was their performance of “Where I Belong,” their latest single. With over 15,000 people singing that song together, there was no denying God’s presence in the building.
As if that wasn’t enough, you had Peter Furler up next, the former lead singer of the Newsboys. He sang a combination of his new solo music, including “Reach,” as well as some old Newsboys classics like “He Reigns,” “Entertaining Angels,” and “I Am Free.”
Not only did he blow us away with an exquisite set but he had his old Newsboys buddy and bassist, Phil Joel, on stage with him. There’s no doubt Furler’s spiritual fire still burns strong because during “I Am Free,” he emphatically talked about how great God is and couldn’t have been more energetic about it.
After another moving set from Sanctus Real it was time for the headliner, the reason a lot of people came out that night. It was time for Skillet.
They did pretty much the same set they always do, which equals complete awesomeness. They started with the lights going down and a violinist and cellist entering center stage. They were wearing gold masks and played a string version of “Whispers in the Dark,” which was a prelude into the actual song, which brought the crowd into a Jesus-rockified frenzy.
After their outstanding intro, they took us into the crowd favorite, “Comatose,” where you could barely even hear the band playing, because the capacity-crowd was singing at such a high volume.
That was the tone of the rest of the night, Skillet rocking on stage and rocking our faces completely off. They may not have had the fire they usually have with them, but they made up for it with every other aspect of their performance.
During “Hero,” drummer Jen Ledger’s drum set crawled across the stage and down the cat-walk. As the chorus hit, smoke came vertically shooting out the front of the cat-walk, then during the middle of the song, Ledger’s drum kit began spinning and rising into the air.
For “Monster,” singer John Cooper brought the famous monster head on stage, which he stood inside of and sang the song, which warranted an eruption from the crowd.
Ending with “Rebirthing,” they didn’t hold anything back. They had an extended ending to the song and to cap-off the night, Cooper shot fireworks out the neck of his bass guitar.
The night was every Panhead’s dream come true and if you didn’t get a chance to catch Skillet or Winter Jam this year, I highly recommend you do on the next leg of their respective tours.
Click on the links below to listen to our exclusive interviews with Peter Furler and Manuel of Group 1 Crew: