Commissioned Reunion Concert Report
No words can never describe the incredible evening that was the Commissioned Reunion, on October 26, 2001, and first ever live recording for the supergroup. We'll try anyhow.
— by GospelFlava.com Staff —
Pictures can help, but even they can't do justice. The live album and video recording of the historic evening will satisfy a great many (due in April 2002 on Verity Records), but for the hundreds that were there in person, being there will never ever be forgotten.
The Press Conference
Sandwiched between soundcheck and concert, six of Commissioned spent almost an hour in front of the cameras and microphones of various media outlets, fielding questions about the reunion, their personal lives, their perspectives and more.
Keith Staten stated that Commissioned has always touched brothers in a special way, and he expected the concert to be both nostalgic and emotional. (As the evening unfolded, it was evident that his words were prophetic, as it was not uncommon to see men silently crying as Keith, Fred, Mitchell, Marcus, Marvin and Karl sang out with those familiar and ministering lyrics. Whether it was “Ordinary Love”, “Running Back To You” or any of the others, these songs have deep meaning to thousands.)
Perhaps the highlight came when Mitchell Jones responded to a question asking whether they have ever considered why God had chosen them to be the voice of God’s Word through song a voice that had touched and impacted the lives of so very many people of a generation. Jones reponded with the word of song he had recently written, saying that ‘it was nothing that God saw in me, no good of my own, it was simply by His grace’.
Commissioned Press Conference Movies
Hear and see Keith Staten and Marvin Sapp speaking about their upcoming concert, hours before the October 26, 2001 live recording reunion.|
Click on the two above images to get the film rolling!
Woven throughout the press conference was evidence that to a man, Commissioned considered the reunion to be an honor, a privilege and something that they cherished a great deal. The camaraderie and the love that members have for each of the others in the group was palatable, and a joy to watch. Marcus Cole was a cut-up with frequent elbow jabs and his humorous wit being expressed every few minutes.
The group also shared that they are open to possibilities of a Commissioned Reunion tour, if the demand is there for it. They also indicated that the live album and video from the concert is expected to hit the shelves in April 2002.
At one point, Sapp interrupted the gathering to give a loud shoutout to songwriter and vocalist Parkes Stewart, who had just entered the room, saying amidst applause and to all present, that “here’s a man who is very much a big part of Commissioned”.
Artists are fans too, and there were many in attendance at Straight Gate Church. Taking in the evening were Ron Winans, Hezekiah Walker, Mary Mary, Deitrick and Damita Haddon, Darius Twyman, Tiffany Palmer, PAJAM, Londa Larmond, Sharon Riley, Eric Dawkins, producer Steven Ford, Warryn Campbell, Parkes Stewart as well as several others.
Larry Robinson, owner of God’s World in Detroit who sponsored the Reunion, was also in attendance.
There were some great visual flashbacks presented on the big video screens set up at stagefront, with two Bobby Jones Gospel excerpts from the 1980’s showing Commissioned in dated fashion statements singing “Victory” and “Keep On Blessing Me”.
The concert started soon after 8 PM, with MC intros by Deborah Smith Pollard of FM 98 WJLB. Three opening groups featured on Fred Hammond’s In Case You Missed It And Then Some... album primed the crowd, beginning with the three-member sounds of Resurrection, who covered Fred’s “A Life That Shows”, complete with Motown theatrics. The Singletons followed with a crowd-stilling accappela version of "The Lord’s Prayer" and then the familiar uptempo rouser, “Pour Out Your Holy Spirit”. JoAnn Rosario concluded the segment with two songs, ending with her popular “More, More, More”.
Commissioned On Stage
The stage was massive. A huge "CR" backdropped the setup, with pink and white draping festooning the gear. The stage was on three levels, with two drum kits, a percussion kit, multiple keyboards and mics for seven backing singers from Radical For Christ. There was also space for Mohorns (see interview), the three-member horns group, plus room for bass, guitar and of course all the members of Commissioned out in front.
From the start, it was clear that while RFC was in the house, this was going to be about Commissioned. For most of the time, the seven choir members simply sat on the third stage level with mics in hand, deferring to the headliners and only filling out the sound when cued or necessary. And with the intensity and power of Commissioned’s vocals, it was seldom necessary.
Noel Hall, Tommy Walker, Darius Fentress, Daryl Dixon, Marvin McQuitty, Joey Woolfalk and the Mohorns ensemble each had their place and held their own, but out front and center stage was Michael Williams on drums and Fred on bass guitar.
One of the visual draws all night long was seeing Williams and McQuitty new school and old school banging their respective kits in dead synchrony, as if they were one drummer.
The Commissioned set opened with an instrumental medley with teasers of multiple hits, beginning with Fred onstage with bass guitar, with a brief vocal sample from “Strange Land”. Ultimately, with strobes flashing, the guys entered in order (stage left to stage right): Marcus, Marvin, Keith, Fred, Mitchell and Karl. The fashion scheme was 'dark', but not co-ordinated beyond that, with the exception of Mitchell who was in a cream-colored suit. "Keep On Blessing Me" was the first full song to be heard over the roar of the audience.
A full video team was active all night long: one long boom camera, one Steadicam and two hand cameras moving up and down, back and forth across the stage.
In fact, it’s a very good thing that there will be a video release of this concert recording, because the eye and ear could scarcely take it all in, there were happenings on multiple levels at the same time: instrumentally, visually, vocally, crowd dramatics, artist-spotting and more. But ministry was foremost, and that’s not even a cliché.
From the effective altar call from Fred near the concert end, to the overflow of hands raised high in the air, to the silent weeping by countless, this wasn’t only a night of ministry. It was also an evening to give thanks to God one more time for His comfort, His care, His Word and his power that He had allowed Commissioned to deliver to saints everywhere for over sixteen years.
Multiple medleys were presented, some slow, some fast. In total about thirty songs were presented, with relatively little by way of introductions or inter-song banter. Songs were pulled from all Commissioned projects with the exception of Time and Seasons and Irreplaceable Love.
When there was talk, it was Fred with the occassional humerous anecdote. He described the old van the group used to use for travel, and he explained how they came to find their name.
One memorable moment was Fred’s attempt to introduce “King of Glory”. His rehearsed setup talk was thrown off by someone in the crowd yeling the name of the song. So to everyone’s delight, he simply ‘gave up’, smiled as if to say he should have known he couldn’t surprise the crowd who knew it was coming, and tossed his signal to the band for instant barrage of blazing intro.
But overall this was a night of singing. The quality was sky high from the first note, and incredibly, got even higher as the night progressed.
Some of the softer songs sung were "Secret Place", "Hold Me", "The City" and "So Good To Know".
Mitchell’s smooth tones on “Ordinary Just Won’t Do” haven’t lost anything, and were contrasted by some incredible flat out singing ministry from Marcus Cole on the song. On “Tis So Sweet”, Mitchell took the name of the song to musical meaning as well, the man simply is the definition of smooth.
All night Cole and Marvin Sapp proved to be a magnetic duo. They have similar voices on one level, with craggy, preachy rasps and incredible runs; both have intense stage personalities. But they are different enough to contrast, and together they work off each other to create a synergy of sound.
Keith took solo stage on “Will You Be Ready”, bringing the house down with vocal force that surpassed anything you’ve ever heard from him, and that’s saying much. He sang like the lyrics were written only yesterday. His vocal effects are unmistakeable, and probably only HE could get away with them, simply because he’s Keith. And yet it’s not so much what he does with his voice, because he doesn’t rely heavily on acrobatics at all. The anointing that God has placed on his vocal cords is just so heavy.
Fred stepped out with Keith on “Let Me Tell It” like you knew they would. Then on “Running Back To You”, Fred softly handled lead with Joey Woolfalk supporting on acoustic guitar, and on “Everlasting Love”, it was Karl’s turn to shine with his shimmering pipes.
Band arrangements were always up to date and yet never took the songs beyond where we were comfortable. You knew the songs, everyone sang along, and Commissioned respected that.
The concert ended with a final segment that included an incredible all-out jam of "I Can't Live Without U". The congregation did not want to leave, with the house having to shut down the lights several times to encourage them to move on out.
This reunion was like no-one in Commissioned had ever left. It was like Marcus Cole had always sung with Fred and like Mitchell was singing his stuff with first time fervor. It was like Marvin had been singing with Keith and Karl forever. It was like Michael Williams had been honing his stuff every week since he left.
Bottom line, Commissioned lived up to their name commissioned to preach the Gospel in song.
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