After six years away from the Queen City, Chris Tomlin tried out some new things Sunday that elevated his Love Ran Red tour stop from a solid live performance to a memorable one.
At 8:30 p.m., Tomlin walked on stage virtually unnoticed by audience members, jumping into his 2004 mega-hit “How Great Is Our God,” before segueing into “Waterfall” off his latest album and then his 2010 hit, “I Will Follow.”
“Yes, it’s been too long since we’ve been to Charlotte,” he said. “Thank you so much for coming out on a Sunday night. We are so honored and just floored to be with you tonight.”
Tomlin’s sound was crisp and his performance was solid as he segued into songs like “Song 100,” “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies),” “Holy Is the Lord” and “Jesus Loves Me.”
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Audience members loudly sang along to many of the songs, waving their hands in the air and swaying.
About an hour into his set after performing nearly a dozen songs, Tomlin paused to speak about a cause “that I’m really passionate about and that’s personal to me.”
He began talking about Cure, a nonprofit organization that gives free surgeries to children with physical disabilities in the developing world while also sharing a message of God’s love.
After discussing Cure, Tomlin took questions that audience members had submitted to his Twitter account. Some were playful, some were frank and some were random.
“Charlotte is interesting. And weird,” said Tomlin.
Tomlin answered what his favorite thing to eat on the road was (Chipotle) and what his middle name is (Dwayne. “It’s a good East Texas name,” Tomlin joked.)
One fan asked for “any cool swag for a couple of Canadians,” and Tomlin obliged, calling the man to the stage.
“Now you didn’t ask for a selfie,” Tomlin playfully chided the man as he snapped a picture of the Christian artist with his phone.
The question and answer session came to a somber close when one couple, identified only as Chris and April, said it had been two years “since our newborn went to heaven.” They asked Tomlin if he would play “Sovereign,” the same song that was played at the funeral.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Tomlin continued through a few more songs, including “At the Cross” off his latest album “Love Ran Red” and “Amazing Grace.” He played the upbeat “God’s Great Dance Floor,” complete with colorful lights and a disco ball and a request that audience members “get loose” and dance along.
After the lights went out, Tomlin returned to the stage for his encore with a few special guests: Rend Collective and Tenth Avenue North.
Earlier in the night, Northern Irish Christian band Rend Collective had given a spirited opening performance, playing hits like “My Lighthouse” as bubbles were released into the audience and “More Than Conquerors,” which featured one band mate on the bagpipes.
Complementing the folksy, down-home vibe of Rend Collective’s bagpipes and accordions was Tenth Avenue North’s contemporary sound, complete with heavy use of keyboard effects.
Both bands returned to the stage to join Tomlin in singing “10,000 Reasons,” a song off Matt Redman’s 2011 album of the same name.
As each band’s lead singer sang a verse, the crowd roared louder. It was a powerful close to an already memorable night.