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Matt Maher drops the beat at Legends

Lizzy Schroff | Sunday, September 30, 2012


I used to be a huge Christian rock fan. Christian rock and classical music were literally all I listened to until I was a teenager, before I went through my classic rock phase and finally settled into my indie-alternative niche. Going into Matt Maher’s concert Saturday, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my old Point of Grace-loving days and realize how out of touch I was with the Christian rock scene. Why had I become so disenchanted with it? And why did I volunteer to come to this concert? You know the old phrase “God works in mysterious ways”? Well, He certainly did this time.

In my ignorance, I assumed I could get to the show just 15 minutes early in order to get a good spot. Wrong. I drove up to Legends to see a line pouring out the front door and wrapping around the side of the building. I joined the long line secretly thinking, “Man, the ‘Scene’ editor is going to kill me if I tell them that I missed this concert because I didn’t get here early enough.” 

Luckily, I only missed the first song and entered Legend’s nightclub to a huge crowd of cheering and singing students. I settled into the back of the audience to the song “Turn Around” off Maher’s new album. I’ve been to my fair share of concerts before, but there was something very different about this atmosphere.

Maher led into the rocking “Rise Up,” which had the majority of the crowd singing along to the joyous chorus. He followed with “On My Way,” a soulful number on which his band really shined, especially the bluesy guitarist and keyboardist with a gospel-like organ sound. Everyone was clapping and really feeling the music with hands raised in the air  – “gospel choir” hands, as Maher called them.

There was great interaction between Maher and the audience. Before his next song, he had everyone sing back “Holy is his name,” to which he replied, “That’s too polite. I imagine that’s what Sunday at the Basilica is like. I need some Touchdown Jesus in my life,” a statement which garnered lots of laughs. 

This lead right into “Great Things,” based on the Magnificat and Mary’s answer to God’s call to be the mother of Jesus. “Hold Us Together” followed, in which many members of the audience put their arms around each other (á la the Alma Mater after home football games).

Maher then took a moment to talk about the following song, “Your Grace is Enough,” which he wrote during a difficult time in his life after graduating from college. He drew inspiration from 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'” 

The song led right into the traditional hymn “Here I Am, Lord,” during which Maher addressed the students. 

“I was playing in Detroit last night, and we were having a lot of technical difficulties and I asked God, ‘What’s this about?’ It’s about tomorrow night,” he said. “It’s about Notre Dame. If God could do what He did with 12 men, imagine what He could do with a whole college campus. We believe in what you can do. Let this night be seen as legendary.” 

The entire audience joined into the singing of “Here I Am, Lord,” which ended with the most moving moment that I’ve experienced at a concert. Silence. Not a single clap. It was then that I really honed in on the difference between this concert and all the others that I’ve attended. People weren’t here just for the music. They were gathered because of a shared belief in something greater than themselves. If there was ever a time to feel God’s presence, it was right there, in that very moment.

The show continued with “Christ is Risen,” which Maher dedicated to all those who are struggling with doubt and a weakness of faith, encouraging that, “This could be the night. It’s shifting. It’s changed.” 

The tempo slowed with “Garden,” during which there were moments so quiet that you could hear a pin drop as Maher liltingly sang aided solely by his acoustic guitar.

Next came the energetic “Every Little Prison (Deliver Me),” based on the prayer, “Litany of Humility.” The band seamlessly integrated a twangy “When the Saints Go Marching In” before finishing with the “Notre Dame Victory March,” which had everyone singing along.

Maher and his band responded to the audience’s cheers of “One more song!” with the spirited “It Is Good,” originally by artist Paul Wilbur. The song gradually gained sped up before culminating in, get this, a beat drop. I never thought I would put “Christian rock song” and “beat drop” in the same sentence. It was so funky and so electrifying. The crowd was jumping, people were singing and dancing, and the tempo was hopping. Matt Maher’s vocals were spot-on and the band was phenomenal. It was a fantastic way to end the show. 

When the stage lights faded, the band exited the stage, and the crowd dispersed, I couldn’t help but feel happy and refreshed. It is so easy to get caught up in the hectic schedule of college life and forget what’s really important. This show reminded me exactly what that is. Who knew that a time of reflection could come in the midst of the cheering and clapping of a rock concert? If I ever need a moment to bring me back into that state-of-mind, I’ll be sure to pull out a Matt Maher album.

Contact Lizzy Schroff at