I have to admit, I was a bit excited to see this show. I’m not a huge Christian music fan but after speaking with Ray Boltz for my article, I was curious how the show would play out. And the stuff I heard online wasn’t bad. Plus, when we spoke, his music was taking on a different tone lyrically. He came out exactly a year ago on Saturday night to the Washington Blade. He told me his music had changed from religious or “Christianese” (his word) to more spiritual. For sure, his new stuff was geared toward his newfound LGBT audience.
Boltz is big in the secular music arena. He’s played to huge arena crowds but he seemed quite alright at the small Rose Room venue. He laughed off mishaps at the beginning of the show (a bad cord for his guitar to plug in, a broken string) and blamed it on the devil. A lesser artist would have been flustered but Boltz pushed on through to give a satisfactory concert. The cord was replaced and he and his guitar were back on track. Although he sang with backing tracks from a CD, as did opener Marvin Matthews, Boltz’s voice was strong enough to stand out on its own.
He introduced a newer song, “Don’t Tell Me Who To Love,” by saying his newest producer out in California “turned me into Cher or something.” It was a good joke which was only funnier when the track played because it sounded just like “Believe.”
Boltz played more of his newer stuff from his upcoming album which surprised seeing that he has a vast discography. He did revisit “The Anchor Holds” from his 1994 album, Allegiance. It was a beautifully done epic that, for me at least, was the highlight of the show. Probably because Boltz may still be fitting into his new music but had the experience to belt out this ballad that filled the room.
Although Marvin Matthews opened, this really was a double header. Matthews could easily be a bigger star easily in the Bebe Winans realm. He has a magnificence about him that is great fun to watch and his voice is really something amazing. If I wasn’t paying attention, I would easily have thought it was a CD but his live voice has a fantastic pristine quality.
The two sang a duet and for a quick moment, I kind of felt like I was watching some spectacular. These two giants in their own right, singing their faith while the audience praised and clapped. By the end of the show, the standing ovation came and smiles filled the room. Everyone was clearly overjoyed by the night. And it turned out, so was I.