Now that I've had a bit of time to absorb a bit of the fun we had Sunday, I do owe a few glowing remarks of yesterday's Australian Invasion at Lakewood. It's been a while since I've made it out to a Sunday service and I made a point of it to get there early to hear a bit of rehearsal. Maybe I missed it before, but judging from some internal applause-meter of mine, there seemed to be a bit more attentiveness to rehearsal by the early arrivals. Good to see, whether it was some increase of interest due to Darlene Zschech working out a song or two ... or not.
A bit of credit is due to the caliber of introduction given Darlene. She made her entrance after the lead-in song and got a nice plug from Joel as he greeted the crowd. She's really written some of the best songs out there in modern praise and worship music and she's an excellent performer to boot. That combination doesn't always happen in nature.
And yet, my first thought upon seeing Darlene dance around the stage was something along the lines of "They sure do make them bouncier in Australia, don't they?" Hillsong United's performace that evening would do little to prove otherwise. One cruel fate from the worship service, however, is that the addictive number that Darlene unleashed on us isn't available yet. "The Freedom We Know" is set to be released on Hillsong's Mighty to Save CD, which comes out September 5. There's a 30-second sound clip of the tune on Hillsong's site, but from the sound of it, it's more Joel Houston than Darlene Zschech singing. Perhaps the spirit of the song, as we saw it Sunday, will come out more in Hillsong's DVD footage. Or, with a little luck, Cindy Ratcliff will work the song into heavy rotation here at Lakewood (hint, hint).
Aside from getting used to the fact that Darlene's vowels didn't sound like our vowels, the performance was moving, to say the least. I'd had a long weekend up till service, and actually hadn't gotten any sleep in the previous 24 hours, so I opted to stick around for a Compass Class and the first few songs of Darlene's in the second service. After that, I was truly beat.
I also mentioned a number by Jemine Leigh. I may have to bug the music ministry about the song title that she performed. It definitely highlighted some Whitney-esque range that Jemine has and she deserves high praise for demonstrating her own talent on stage the same day with Darlene and Cindy. Joel even had another gracious plug for Jemine, including a nod to her parents who apparently minister in (if I remember correctly) Nigeria. All in all, it was a great day for music fans at Lakewood. Darlene and Hillsong United are both on tour through the US (separate iteneraries, though), so if you're reading this from points elsewhere, catch them if you can.