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Thrive: At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jul
Thrive: At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Sounds like … hook-heavy pop/rock influenced by the likes of Midnight Oil and INXS, with clever production and co-writing assistance from the legendary Steve Taylor. At a Glance … the Newsboys' new studio album, Thrive, brought to life in a live visual setting, complete with a handful of past hits and bonus footage.

The Newsboys have been one of the most electrifying live acts in Christian music since their Australian beginnings over a decade ago. From their natural on-stage chemistry to their breathtaking rotating drum kit, the Newsboys have earned flocks of satisfied fans in practically ever city they've visited. Besides possessing performance dynamics, the Newsboys often have gone where no band has gone before when it comes to touring plans. It all started after the release of Love, Liberty, Disco in 1999 when the band's subsequent tour was planned around a self-sufficient air dome venue that traveled from city to city with them, negating the need for them to be booked in a traditional concert hall, theater, college, or club.

They followed suit two years later while on the road in support of Shine: The Hits, their career-spanning best-of collection. Even more daring than the tour before, the Newsboys hit the road with the likes of Audio Adrenaline, The O.C. Supertones, and about a dozen other up-and-coming acts to mark the first time in music history that an entire festival lineup has gone on tour together! Similar to the dome-tour concept, "Festival Con Dios" was a fully functional, completely movable festival venue, with everything from sound and lights to food vendors and bathroom facilities.

Granted, it's hard to outdo such feats, which have already earned the Newsboys cover stories on both Newsweek and Pollstar (the music industry concert publication), but the band has managed to make history once again. On March 25, 2002, the group was invited to perform on one of the most coveted stages in music history, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. To coincide with the band's latest release, Thrive, the Newsboys set up shop in the middle of the Museum (somewhere in between a display of Bono's outfits from the "Zoo TV" tour and a shrine to Led Zeppelin) to showcase the record, along with a few past gems. They did so on a semi-circle stage complete with an often-used catwalk, which throngs of people gathered around each time a band member ventured towards them. Originally airing on PAX television earlier this year, Thrive: At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is now available for your viewing pleasure on DVD.

Like the CD, the DVD opens with the hearty rocker "Giving it Over," followed by the rollicking "Live in Stereo" (minus the whistling choir). The group performs 8 of the 10 tracks from the Thrive album, including potent renditions of "Million Pieces (Kissin' Your Cares Goodbye)" and "Rescue." The only awkward moment amongst the new material is the cut "The Fad of the Land," featuring a clumsy cameo appearance by dc Talk's Michael Tait, who attempts a duet with Peter Furler even though he doesn't know the words to the song. (Even more embarrassing is the fact Michael stumbles over the lyrics despite holding the CD jacket with the words printed inside while he's on stage).

Putting that painful moment aside, the Newsboys also featured two recently released cuts from their greatest-hits collection called "Joy" and "Who?" Both tracks serve as a bridge between the band's goofy "disco" period and their current state of more defined alternative rock and roll. And, of course, the group had to throw in a couple of oldies but goodies to remind fans of the past. They dipped back to their original days of co-writing with Steve Taylor to present "Take Me To Your Leader," "Breakfast," and the group's biggest smash "Shine." Even though the group has played the latter live thousands of times and has admitted they don't even like the song, Furler and company deliver a convincing rendition of "Shine" performed with just as much enthusiasm as their new material.

As if the full concert isn't enough, the DVD bonus features bring the program length to well over three hours! Unlike most DVDs that provide a lot of fluff footage and meaningless band member banter, every segment here makes sense and fits with the rest of the overall package. Interviews with various group members about the CD, the Hall of Fame performance, and an overview of the band's career progression are candid and interesting. The behind-the-scenes "band cam" shows the Newsboys getting ready for the big gig, giving diehard fans desperate for a backstage pass a very personal peek at the band. What's nice about this segment is the fact that it isn't sugar coated and doesn't show the band merely acting for the camera. Instead, it shows their ascent by elevator to the stage area, looking a bit nervous to be playing at such an esteemed location.

Perhaps the most enjoyable bonus segment is a brief tour of the museum. The Newsboys talk with a staff member about everything from concert outfits to original song lyrics that have been preserved and put on display. The only problem with the segment is that it's far too short, showing only a handful of the countless items on display with only about six minutes of the band and tour guide's enthralling dialogue making the final cut.

Regardless, Thrive: From the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the way a DVD should be put together, and is just another example of the Newsboys' continual pursuit of excellence. The concert and bonus features are delivered with the top-notch quality you've come to expect from the group and are a must-have for any fan. And for those of you who already own the Shine: The Hits / One Night in Pennsylvania DVD and wonder if you need to buy this, the answer is a resounding "yes." This project takes up where that tour left off, offering only a handful of repeat tracks.