Through & Through Gospel Review
MIM Music Theatre
June 30, 2013
It was Sunday evening, and we weren't in church, but a crowd gathered at the MIM Music Theatre to hear unconventional gospel-pop songs written by Joel Marquard and performed by the Gospel Claws frontman and a 13-piece live band.
Marquard's Through & Through Gospel Review, making only its second performance ever, is influenced by gospel records of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s and performs in such genre/era-appropriate stagewear as hats, neckties, suspenders, and vintage dresses. But that's where any old-timey theological connection ends -- Marquard capped opening song "I'm Not Dead, I'm Alive" thusly: "Thank you. We are the Wu-Tang Clan."
So, how does Joel Marquard write such powerful gospel music while claiming to not be religious? It remains a mystery to me, but there's no doubt his upbringing as a singer in his church choir influenced this project.
Marquard played multiple roles himself, singing at the front of the stage at time, and receding into the background at other times. At one point, he moved to back of stage, dancing behind an amplifier and making it appear as though he were pulling out the sound with his hands. At another point, he took an extra pair of drumsticks and joined the drummer on the same kit.
Many of the members of the band traded instruments between songs, showing their range and flexibility as they moved from piano in one song to drums or guitar or vocals in the next. Backup singers on each side of the stage -- three women on the left and three men on the right -- joined Marquard with wood blocks. The acoustics at the Musical Instrument Museum complemented the band's sound perfectly.
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When they performed "I Head Towards the Light," Marquard stood away from the mic while the backup singers clapped in beat and sang along, creating a quiet moment on the packed stage. For "Born on the Edge of the Sword," nearly everyone left the stage; Marquard joked, "Those guys are talking their 15-minute break. There are some vending machines back there for them."
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My only wish is that they had played longer, and I wasn't the only one -- when Marquard announced, "This is our last song," the crowd joined together in a chorus of disappointed "no's."
For the song, "When the Lord Came Down," one of the backup singers put on safety goggles and picked up a hammer. Along with the beat, the singer smashed glass hanging from a wooden structure with the words "Through and Through Gospel Review" painted on it. As the song came to an end, Marquard ran to the same structure and brought it down forcefully, till it was little more than pieces on the stage.
Setlist: I'm Not Dead, I'm Alive The Good Book Right Now, Right Now Born on the Edge of a Sword I Firmly Believe I Head Towards the Light Do You Know My King Please St. Peter When the Lord Came Down
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold and Through and Through Gospel Review at MIM The Crowd: Happy to be inside, far away from a hot summer June night Random Notebook Dump: "I am AZ Music"