Welcome to the Worship Circus
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Aug
Credit Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus for coming up with one of the best and most original band names. But think again if you assume this quartet is trying to be anything less than reverent in praising God. Gabriel Wilson is the band's founder, frontman, lead singer, and guitarist, not to mention the only member whose band name appears on his birth certificate. He, his wife "Blurr" (keyboards, "low-end"), and "Zurn" (drums) met as members of the worship team at Evangel Christian Fellowship in Longview, Washington. They were eventually joined in 1999 by "Solo," whose nickname is obvious when you hear his lead guitar skills. After a few gigs together, the foursome took a month-long mission trip to Kenya, where they discerned that God was calling them to do worship music. The band name reflects a "tent revival" mentality and the spectrum of emotions displayed by those who got saved through their church's worship experiences: laughing, crying, and rejoicing. After a trio of independent projects, most notably 2001's
If you've been a fan of the band since
Though the band has no bass guitar player, Blurr's keyboard bass is often a fine substitute, even sounding a bit like Paul McCartney's famed Hofner bass on "Party Song." Her keyboards on "Come to the Father" help lend a vintage David Bowie sound a la "Changes" or "Heroes." Both Gabriel and Solo pull some familiar guitar sounds from their bag of tricks, such as on the beginning of "Blood of Jesus," which sounds much like The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride." They also capture the Pink Floyd atmosphere (think "Sorrow" or "Another Brick in the Wall") in "The Undiscovered." Even Zurn's drum kit has a classic '70s rock sound, though the band certainly doesn't sound as if they're lost in the '60s and '70s throughout the album. The driving rocker "Loving You" has a decidedly modern sound, much like The Cure's "Love Song," and the melodic "Your Crown" draws natural comparisons to The Violet Burning. The artsy sounding "Glorify the Son" is probably my favorite example of the band's blend of classic and modern, mixing the art-rock sound of David Bowie and Pink Floyd with the melodic modern worship songwriting of Delirious's best ballads.
While the band was visiting our offices, I asked Gabriel how quickly people pick up the songs during their worship concerts. Because of some atypical melodies, not all of the songs are easy to learn, and Gabriel admitted that it depends on the song. "Glorify the Son" is as effective as any Delirious ballad, conveying all that Jesus accomplished on the cross. "Your Crown" also works well with its simple melody and memorable chorus. Other songs rely on simple lyrical content to make singing along easier. The beautiful closing anthem, "We Sing Glory," restricts the verses to a single line ("We sing glory to the name of our God" or "Salvation belongs to our God") and leads into an even simpler chorus of "Hallelujah." Other songs have enough of a hook that anyone will be able to sing along. For example, "Party Song" isn't a song that's easy to sing along with right away, but there's a building "Alleluia," a chorus of "ooo-wee-ooo"s, and a lot of cheering designed to allow anyone to join in the worship experience. The simplistic "Blood of Jesus" is as easy to sing along with as a youth camp song, and the chorus of "Ba da da"s is readily singable.
Still, Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus scores points for doing something different with worship. There's a sense this band is on to something, much like Delirious when they began ten years ago. It's good to note that Delirious wasn't an overnight success either; they slowly gained experience and respect for their unique and powerful worship concerts. Those who've seen Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus in concert have likened them to the popular aforementioned British worship band, citing the event as a "worship experience" as opposed to a mere concert. Check out