Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken played in Naperville on Friday, and oh man, was it a good show. We were both a little uncertain. We thought it could go either way, but they were so fantastic live. They played at the Union, which is a converted church sanctuary/concert venue. It has giant black-and-white photos of musicians on the walls, right in between the stained glass windows. Can I just say that there is probably no surer way to make me feel like I've come to the right place than to decorate with a larger-than-life portrait of Over the Rhine?
So, Sandra McCracken was lovely. Her songs manage to be both gritty and delicate, much as she seems to be. I happily plunked down the $10 for her new album, In Feast or Fallow: New Old Hymns. Derek Webb played with her, and I was impressed by how he really puts himself in service to her music. They collaborate well.
Then Derek Webb played solo, and I cannot overstate how very, very good it was. He's such a confident and talented musician. He inexplicably reminded me of Justin Timberlake. Beyond his performance, the songs are just. so. good. I was especially glad to hear Freddie Please live; it's off of the mostly-electronic album Stockholm Syndrome, but it was perfect on acoustic guitar.
Freddie Please is so illustrative of the brilliance of Derek Webb. As he briefly explained, it's a doo-wop 50's love song to Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, sung from the perspective of Jesus:
How could you do this to me
How could you tell me you love me when you hate me
The stone's been rolled away
And you're picketing my grave for loving the things you hate
But why do you seek the living among the dead
Meanwhile, I've been listening to track #4 on Feast or Fallow on repeat:
Justice will roll down, oh, justice will roll down.
From high upon the mountain with a mighty river sound,
it will roll down. It will roll down.
Amen and amen.