|Jars of Clay
UNH in Durham, New Hampshire
May 9, 1998
New Sound Concerts
Length: About 90 minutes
Recent Grammy Award winners Jars of Clay graced New Hampshire with a rare New England appearance early in May, in what proved to be a credible showcase of their material. Most notably, Jars of Clay's cross-generational appeal was evident. A hearty audience of both young and old (estimated at about 2500 in all) gathered for the event. Judging from their enthusiastic responses, people were quite pleased with the show.
The members of Jars of Clay aren't accomplished players, yet they create a pleasant sounding routine pop with enough creativity and individuality to keep things more interesting. (Or in other words, pop songs that cool folk aren't completely embarrassed to like.) For a band of young men barely in their third decade of life, everything from the music to the lights was done with surprisingly good taste and a modicum of class. This was not a rowdy punk rock show or worse, some gawdy, glitzy gala. The lighting effects, for example, were accomplished through spots, appropriate mood-inducing shades and a projector creating a kaleidoscope of sauntering snowflakes, spirally doodads, curly Q's, and colorful jars. These projections were used modestly, but were greatly appreciated since the band's overall presentation is rather static without them. The band doesn't move much except Dan, the lead singer, who wanders a bit from time to time. What he lacks in stage activity, he makes up for in his friendly demeanor. He's not only personable with the crowd, he really seems genuine and compassionate.
The crowd went crazy for the band's two cover songs of the evening. The first was "No Matter," a hit by Badfinger in 1972, with a "That Thing You Do" vibe that prompts a happy smile. The second was "God Only Knows," a 1967 hit for the Beach Boys, and was rendered superbly, complete with trademark harmonies. It was a real highlight.
Another highlight included "Love Song for a Savior," which inspired worship among some attendees. This song may best represent the heart of Jars of Clay; a heart that yearns to fall more deeply in love with God. The flock acknowledged the spirit of the moment with their own open hearts, lifted hands, and joyful voices.
After wooing the crowd with 11 songs, Jars slowed things down with
a pair performed in a more unplugged fashion: "Coffee," which was
the second of two hot beverage songs, and "Sinking." They followed
this break with yet another highlight, "Worlds Apart," which Dan described
as one of the most difficult songs they ever wrote, taking up to six months
to complete. With its message of relinquishing self to God, this
song serves as another example of Jars of Clay's desire to offer hope in
the midst of frustration. It's also one of the best representations
of their trademark confessional style, which mixes melancholy with the
promise of greater faith. At this point during the show, I
The Jars saved all their biggest hit singles for the latter half
of the show, as part of a greatest hits set, yet nobody showed much impatience
for them to do them sooner. "Crazy Times" and "Fade to Grey" were
their first two singles from the new album, Much Afraid.
"Five Candles," with its Party of Five soundtrack feel, is the next
single (look for this video soon). All three were played back to
back without much deviation from the album tracks. They also offered
the band an opportunity to be a bit more animated on stage in fleeting
but fitting moments, and prompted a flurry of seemingly inappropriate crowd
surfing afficionados, especially during "Five Candles" (which is essentially
a ballad). The band plans to release "Tea and Sympathy" as the
As you can see from the set list, nearly all of their best songs from both albums were played, as well as a few surprises. My only question: where is "Frail?" It's easily one of the best songs on Much Afraid, yet notably absent. "Hymn," too, seemed like a sure inclusion, but was also omitted. Regardless, Jars of Clay, if nothing else, proved their mass appeal with catchy songs full of faith and devotion.
By Steven Stuart Baldwin
Weighed Down (M)
Like a Child (J)
Boy on a String (J)
Rose Colored (O)
Tea & Sympathy (M)
Love Song for a Savior (J)
No Matter (C)
God Only Knows (C)
Worlds Apart (J)
Crazy Times (M)
Five Candles (You were There) M
Fade to Grey (M)
4:7 (J - It's the secret track and refers to the quote from 2 Corinthians)
For more about Jars of Clay, see our collection of album reviews