by Bruce A. Brown for the Music Channel at crosswalk.com

{{dc Talk}} has been tantalizing fans at select concerts with songs from its ==Supernatural== disc (released last fall) for over a year now, so expectations were quite high for the band's first full-blown U.S. tour since the spring of 1996. And by all indications, the 63-city "Supernatural" tour which concluded last week, was a rousing success.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect for the band or the 10,000 fans gathered at St. Louis' Riverport Amphitheater on May 8th. While it was yet daylight, {{The W's}} bounded on stage, regaling the crowd with several swing-influenced tunes from their Dove Award-winning debut album, ==Fourth From the Last==. In rapid succession, {{Jennifer Knapp}} (also a multiple Dove winner) hit the stage. Joined by a three-piece band, Knapp quickly displayed the communications skills that earned her ==Kansas== album so many critical plaudits. It's easy to see why the folks at the mainstream Lilith Fair tour have tapped her to play at several of their events.

After a brief intermission, the lights were lowered, and the audience roared its approval at the film montage displayed on the huge silver screen at the rear of the stage. Broken Poet Films director Eric Welch, who made several outstanding video contributions to the evening assembled the footage. A "Supernatural Remix," spun together by DJ Form (borrowed from {{Grits}} for this tour) accompanied the clips. Appropriately, Form was the loan figure on stage and would prove to be the lynch pin of many of the evening's hottest musical moments.

As the film footage faded, the band segued into the opening notes of "Dive," with Kevin Max, Toby McKeehan and Michael Tait still hiding in the shadows. As band and singers slammed into the chorus, the entire stage and audience was enveloped in brilliant white light. (Here we must tip our hat to lighting director Andy Dunning and sound engineer Chris Michaelessi, who made the show a joy to watch and to listen to.)

DJ Form provided a U2, electronica style bridge into "Jesus Is Still Alright," which found Max (in a Euro-tailored suit), Tait (in black slacks and shirt) and McKeehan (sporting a cowboy hat), bounding around the stage like human pinballs. In keeping with the tone set by DJ Form, McKeehan showed his mic skills with some freestyle raps.

The trio gave its now customary nod to The Beatles with a smooth segue from "Hello Goodbye" into "It's Killing Me," the second of nine songs from ==Supernatural==. Following a brief greeting by Tait (introducing himself as "the Negro of the trio"), the group reached back for "Colored People," linking arms at center stage in a show of genuine affection for one another. "Consume Me" the second single from ==Supernatural==, displayed a superb vocal blend, as did the slashing rocker "My Friend, So Long." Things continued in a rocking mode for "Since I Met You," which sent the already excited gathering into overdrive.

Tait then returned to the spotlight for "Godsend," taking the lead vocal on the unabashed love song, while relishing the irony of being the only single man in the entourage, and the first set concluded with what is arguably one of bands finest songs, "Between You and Me."

As a small platform at the front of the stage was quickly reset, Toby stepped up to read a modern translation of I Corinthians 13. The group's patented acoustic set followed, as mini-takes of "What If I Stumble," "Into Jesus," "My Will," "40" (courtesy of U2) and Rich Mullins' "My Deliverer" (from Prince Of Egypt - Inspirational) and "Awesome God" followed.

The highlight of the evening for many was the much-anticipated "Disco Set." The spotlight was on DJ Form once again, for a quick remix of some classic dc Talk tracks, including "Heavenbound," "Nu Thang and "That Kinda Girl." The full band returned for "We All Wanna Be Loved," and was supplemented by the horn section from {{The W's}}, who remained on stage as the band surveyed several disco classics, including "That's the Way (I Like It)," "Boogie Nights," and "Le Freak." Finally, McKeehan focused the spotlight on the superb band, giving keyboardist Jason Halbert, drummer Rick May, bassist Otto "Sugar Bear" Price and guitarists Mark Townsend and Barry Graul some much deserved time in the spotlight. In conclusion, DJ Form kicked in some old school beats, and let McKeehan and Sugar Bear both rock the mic for a few minutes.

A rousing version of "Day by Day" kept things moving at a brisk pace, then the crowd seemed ready for a brief rest. That was provided by Max's passionate blend of the English ballad "Greensleeves" and the Christmas chorus (sung to that same melody), "What Child Is This?" "In the Light" brought the audience to its feet once more, and "Supernatural" kept them there.

Although it may have seemed odd to insert the moving ballad "Red Letters" as an encore, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Along with the impassioned vocals of Tait, Max, and McKeehan, the audience was treated to another of Welch's brilliant video montages. And of course, the crowd was sent into its final frenzy with dc Talk's signature song, "Jesus Freak." As he did throughout the tour, Toby McKeehan returned to the stage to share his testimony and gave an invitation to accept Christ.