Last Saturday, June 11, 2005, Reuben Morgan of Hillsongs Australia came to Manila for a night of Praise and Worship. I should say, he actually brought his personal band that toured with him for the past weeks and not United nor the main Hillsong team as previously announced. Whichever, they made a great impact in the worship experience of Filipinos.
I went with Joy (my wife) and 4 others from our church. We missed the seminar at 4 pm, though. So this review is based on the evening’s main event.
Now, please don’t look at me as a critic, but below are just my honest evaluation of the event itself.
The should be’s
* The Dome wasn’t a full house. I think the major factor for this is the prices of the tickets. Considering that the promoters are targeting the youth, the gate tickets should be lower. When I first attended a Hillsong worship concert back in 2001 at the ULTRA, we paid P100 for a level 3 seat. At Araneta, we’re at the level 4 paying P400. When you look at the place, there seemed a huge vacuum at the center going nearer to the stage. :D
I was thinking, if only the organizers were able to see this while they were planning for this event, they should have used a smaller venue, say ULTRA. For some, seeing the “near-the-stage” area not covered by people isn’t a big deal. But, I think, it has an impact on the event itself — whether it’s a secular or religious concert.
* Carefully listening to Reuben Morgan and his band, I feel like there’s a hole in their sound. I mean, I’ve attended several concerts at the Dome before and I have never been unsatisfied with the music as now. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the time so much — and I’ll tell you later. But what I’m saying is, they sounded flat. Was it the mixing/sound engineering? Was it the Dome’s sound equipments? I’m not sure, but as I have said, Patti Austin sounded real better than Morgan at the Dome.
Or was I simply expecting too much? You see, I was expecting a Hillsong-type of music, or even a United-kind if their intention was to sound “youth”. But I guess, they sounded flat because 1) Rueben has no praise and worship team 2) no keyboards/synth (I know its supposed to be a rock concert, but I believe that a Praise and worship as grand as this should have a keyboard) and 3) generally lacks the man-power to create a better sounding music.
My assessment was confirmed when I asked several people that were with me. I think what the organizers should have done was coordinate with local musicians. Look at this picture taken from their Malaysian leg. They have a choir, keyboards and the stage looks amazing. (Ours was so bear. Other than the lights, there isn’t anything present really). I wonder how the Malaysian organizers did this. I bet they did a great work in partnering with local churches and musicians. This is what Darlene and her team did back in 2001. I remember during the concert, there were about 3 Filipinos singing with them and a musician that played with the band.
* Overall, the organizers seems unprepared. You can see it how they flip the screen camera and the projector (for the lyrics of the song). They just don’t know what to do :D I am just blessed to know most of the songs that I don’t need the projector anymore. But you can imagine how others felt.
You may say, I saw these things because I’m just not really worshiping most of the time. Well, I’ll tell you later. But really, I believe, and Hillsong in their recordings has repeatedly mentioned, that when we do something for God, it should be the best. We have an audience of One. Please take this as point for improvement the next time we invite groups such as Morgan’s.
The seemingly negative things I mentioned above is overly overwhelmed (can you feel the redundancy? :D ) by the fact that thousands of worshipper worshipped the Almighty together that night. People shouting “hallelujah!” on top of their lungs, jumping up and down in celebration of a living Savior (while singing “My Redeemer Lives”). It was an awesome experience.
I also noticed that there were more intimate songs than the celebrative ones. I guess its because Reuben’s forte is really on the contemplative, intimate songs. If you can carefully look at any Hillsong albums’ song credits, you will notice that Rueben’s compositions are more intimate than celebrative. And I enjoyed it. When we sung “Still”, I can’t help it but cry to the Lord in worship. If there’s any time in my life that I need songs like that, it’s now. I need an assurance that I can be still and know that God is in control.
Another wonderful thing happened — this is the first time I saw Catholics and evangelical Christians worship together. You see, the promoter/organizer of this event is Fish Magazine – a Roman Catholic oriented youth magazine, published by BO Sanchez, a Roman Catholic preacher. But you should also take note that most of their partners were evangelical para-church organizations. Jim of Now Radio made a wonderful promotion for the station. Pastor Eric C. Maliwat of DZAS, an evangelical radio station said his piece, too. And, Hillsong with Rueben Morgan themselves are evangelicals (pentecostal in orientation). So, can you see the mix?
Now, my friends at the Bereans Apologetics, I’m not talking about ecumenism here. But Roman Catholics and evangelicals worshipping together one Lord – whats wrong with that?
All in all, it was an awesome experience. I praise God for Fish and Bo Sanchez for bringing Rueben Morgan here. I know guys, you can do better next time :D.
Let me just end this piece with a thought: that Saturday night, while people are trying to overthrow the country’s leadership, while people are protesting, flocking towards the San Carlos Seminary where a person holding the alleged original wiretapped conversation of the President of the Republic is hidding, the people of God are worshipping Him and praying for the nation. Isn’t that we should do?
Next: more pictures.