Date: 04 Nov 1998
To: RichMailList
Subject: [RichMailList 229]: South Bend, IN 10/25 review

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Tim Francis' South Bend review
as posted to the Ragamuffin Mailing List

Subject: [ragamuffin] South Bend Concert
From: Tim Francis
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 21:07:36 EST

It was a cool, crisp, autumn evening.  The moon was a sliver of silver as
it hung over the campus of St. Mary's College and shone on the flocks of
raggamuffins making their way to see their band at O'Laughlin Auditorium
in South Bend, Indiana.

The night began at about ten minutes after 7 pm when This Train took the
stage.  Mark Robertson, with shoes as red as his bass, warned that
sometimes they were accused of playing too loud.  So they decided to
start off with an old hymn.  They proceeded to rock the house with I Saw
the Light.  Jordan had to make several volume adjustments to get things
up to the usual This Train sound level, but by the time his lead rolled
around he was wailing, doing his trademark split while cranking out a
flawless, screaming lead.  Next up was Mimes of the Old West.  Mark said
they made 2 critical errors with this particular song.  One was they
figured there were only 4 or 5 mimes in the country.  The other was that
anyone who goes around in public wearing black tights has a sense of
humor.  But it seems there are thousands and they don't seem to have a
sense of humor about this song.    Mark introduced the next song as a
song that was very special to them.  He said they never used to play it
live because the lyrics were so heartfelt and sensitive that it under
minded everything else they did!  Then they played a beautiful rendition
of a song Mark co-wrote with Rich Mullins : A Million Years.  Keeping
with the sensitive theme, as Mark said, they closed with Monster Truck. 
Mark's well meant, but failed proposal to a past girl friend. Classic
This Train!

After a break of less than 5 minutes Mark came back out to introduce
Mitch McVicker and the Kid Brothers of Saint Frank.  He talked briefly
about the accident and about  losing Rich, and how we almost lost Mitch. 
He shared that Mitch is a walking miracle and a testimony to God's grace.
 It is a miracle that Mitch can stand and breathe, let alone play music
and sing.  I would have to agree.  God is awesome.

Mitch opened with a different version of Here and Now.  A conga intro
laced with acoustic guitar licks and a few pauses and time changes during
the song that were not part of the CD version.  It was great.  Then with
Eric Hauck on the cello and Michael Aukofer on the hammered dulcimer they
played Freedom. (Another great cut from Mitch's CD released independently
this past summer)  Next up was Take Hold of Me on which Mitch broke a
string right at the beginning, but he was still able to pull off a good
version of the song.  Mitch then put his guitar down and picked up Rick
Elias's guitar saying, "I hope Rick doesn't mind if I play his guitar. 
It's a lot nicer than the one I got.......It has more strings."  After
the laughter subsided, Mitch added, "...but more strings gives me a
chance to make more errors."  When Mitch introduced Eric and Michael I
noticed that Eric had on the same racing T-shirt that he bought in Indy
the first week of September.  It was at that show they joked of changing
clothes every couple of weeks or so.  And I wondered........  Mitch
closed with that stupid little profound song we all love, The Lemonade
Song.  Michael did a great job of punctuating Mitch's rhythm with the
washboard and a tin can.  

After another very short break the Raggamuffin band came out on stage and
Rich's haunting hammered dulcimer echoed through the hall playing Nothing
But the Blood of Jesus from the Jesus Record.  The Raggamuffins opened
with My Deliverer which instantly had everyone on their feet where they
remained for sometime until Rick Elias suggested they sit down so they
don't wear themselves out.  Mark Robertson took the lead on the next
song, Surely God Is With Us.  Then Rick and Mark shared vocals on You Did
Not Have a Home.  Mark spoke of remembering playing at the auditorium
with Rich in the Fall of 95.  Rick couldn't remember the things the
others did.  Mark, in mock jealousy prodded, "That's because you had to
leave the tour and go off and make a movie with Mr. Tom Hanks!"  After
further joking with the crowd Rick stepped back and introduced the next
song with all kidding aside.  It was Hard To Get.  This song brought
tears to some eyes.  The version we heard that night was unlike anything
I've ever heard.  It really stood out for me.  There was sort of a
breathtaking,  heavenly, airiness that seemed to grip me throughout that
song.  It is difficult to explain.  The Kid Brothers came back out and
joined the Raggamuffins as Rick sang Man of No Reputation.  There was
then another short break.

During the break a table and some plastic cups were carried out and, upon
return, Mark, Mitch, Aaron, and Eric did the "cup thing" for screen door.
 Eric lost a cup, but quickly scooped it up and fell right back into
step.  Rick said, "It's kind of like one of those old Johnny Carson
monologues.  The more they mess it up the better it is."  Then the
Raggamuffins picked up their other instruments and with Michael Aukofer
on the accordion they opened the second set with Here in America.  Rick
couldn't hit the high notes and after wondered aloud how Rich was able to
hit those.  But he said "that's the beauty of being a raggamuffin, you
don't have to apologize for stinking."  Jimmy Abeg then announced that we
were going to have church from here on out.  The crowd then helped Jimmy
sing through Hold Me Jesus.  It was beautiful. Eric did a great job on
the cello on that song too.  It was strange to hear these songs with the
Raggamuffins and without Rich.  Yet the empty hole that Rich left seemed
to fill with the presence of God.   Again, this is difficult to put into
the words we use here on earth.  After the band was introduced Aaron came
out from behind the drums and sang "If I Stand".  As the intro played
Aaron quoted scripture and then sang straight from his heart.  He was so
into the song his body moved as if he was playing the drums a bit while
singing.  This was also a very moving time.  Mitch came out to help with
backing vocals on that one and took the lead on the next song.  As
Michael hit the beginning notes on the hammered dulcimer I knew we were
in for a real treat.  Mitch did a great job on Calling Out Your Name.
Really making it his own I thought.   Aaron then pounded out the intro to
I See You while Aukofer ran backstage to get his sticks.  The audience
echoed back the lyrics and Jimmy A. flew on guitar.  I thought I was
going to see him lift right up off the stage.  Next came the anthem. 
Mark Robertson (and everyone else) sang Awesome God.  Then Rick shouted
and screamed his beliefs  with us on I Believe.  The Raggamuffins left
the stage and then came back out and did a song Mark said they never even
attempted as a full band before.  He said Indy was the victim of the
rehearsal.  Referring to That Where I Am There You ...  Sure to become a
classic praise song, if it isn't already.  Rick took the time to keep the
song going and teach us this one, although many were familiar with it. 
The audience then helped Rick through Sometimes by Step.  And they closed
the concert with a prayerful rendition of the Doxology as they left the
stage one by one with Jimmy A. lingering in the blue light at the end.  

I was impressed by the unity I saw among the bands and their humbleness
of heart.  Before my wife and I could get down from the balcony Mitch and
Mark were already out at the tables patiently signing autographs. While
Mark signed my CD I heard him explain to someone why he was without his
stand up bass.  He played only electric bass all night.  He said he kind
of broke it and it's being glued back together again.  That's my third
bass this year he said, seeming surprised himself.   During the show Mark
talked about how this tour started of as something for the fans, but it
had for them, turned into an experience of falling in love with God all
over again.  As we drove home we felt that we had been brought closer to
God and we thanked Him for His goodness. 

Tim Francis

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