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Xmas doesn't come too soon for Grant, Smith

Dolby Theatre, West Hollywood, Cal., November 11, 2016

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

At the end of a really difficult election week, where social networks exploded with some of the most un-holiday like partisan vitriol imaginable, it was extremely comforting to experience true holiday spirit with old friends, Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant, along with their new friend, The Voice winner Jordan Smith.

The first half of the concert was relatively lighthearted. Performers joined together for fun holiday favorites, exemplified by Grant rocking out a tad to Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Accentuating this frivolity, Grant even sang while working a Christmas-lighted hula hoop. Similarly, Michael W. Smith strolled the stage, like a latter-day rat pack member and spoke fondly of Andy Williams and Ray Conniff Christmas albums from his childhood.

The second half was by no means any kind of dirge, but the song selection took on a more spiritually-focused and serious tone. These performers were backed by a full orchestra, as well as a quintet of backing singers with the vocal power to sound like a choir when necessary, which resulted in lovely, full-bodied performances.

Smith may have been a new face/name to many in the mostly contemporary Christian music audience, but he likely earned many new friends. Although he was a little out of his element while attempting to play the meanie with the theme song from The Grinch earlier in the night, he thrilled when vocalizing Smith's "All is Well," which felt like a lullaby for adults. Many in the audience even gave him a standing ovation after he performed "O Holy Night."

Michael W. Smith and Grant ended the night, quite appropriately, by singing "Friends" together. It's a song they'd recorded many years ago, and it's heartening to see that they're still great friends and once again touring together. On a night when the president elect's name led every newscast, this was one theatre where Jesus was heard a lot, and that other guy not a once. Too soon for Christmas music? Certainly not! Not this year.

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