The TOUR DE COMPADRES at Red Butte on Tuesday night was a small Christian-rock festival with headliners NEEDTOBREATHE and supporting acts Welshy Arms, John Mark McMillian and Mat Kearney.
The night kicked-off right on time with the riffs of Welshly Arms, who finished their short set just 15 minutes later. They were a bluesy band with rough vocals, with a sound akin to the Black Keys.
John Mark McMillan, hailing from North Carolina, was up next with his band sporting snazzy all-white outfits, post-labor day. The double rainbow that appeared during his short 5 song set, added to the redemptive vibe of this alternative Christian rock tour-of-friends. McMillan wrapped up his set with a snippet of an acapella version of “Fools Rush In.”
The highlight for these reviewers was definitely Mat Kearney. We have seen Mat twice before, and have followed his career closely, so it was interesting to see him in this more Christian context that hearkened back the roots of his earlier material. A large number of the attendees at Red Butte were clearly there to see Mat’s set—and he did not disappoint. He played songs from his last three albums, including hits “Hey Mama,” “One Black Sheep,” and “Closer to Love.” The lightening that danced across the ridge tops behind Mat as he performed fan-favorite “Fire & Rain” added to the drama, because the rain did come. Fortunately, it waited until Mat finished his set.
More than once Mat breathlessly told the appreciative crowd that Salt Lake is his favorite place to play. He even pointed out that, being a hardcore University of Oregon Ducks fan, it was difficult to be on the campus of the football team who had smashed the Oregon Ducks 62-20 just last year.
One of the other highlights of Mat’s set was his snippet of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” with a mirror disco ball, just like he did last year at The Complex on his Just Kids tour. Mat finished his nearly hour long set with his rousing “Ships in the Night.”
Then came the rain . . . and the wind. Most of the crowd waited out the rain in order to see NEEDTOBREATHE. After the downpour subsided, it seemed like the band began their set with their finale because they weren’t sure how long the weather would let them play. They had the crowd jumping around in the mud as they began with “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” and then “Difference Maker.” Unfortunately, the wind cut short Need to Breathe’s performance. The crew had to shut down the show due to safety concerns as they explained that the wind was threatening to topple the speaker stacks. However, those who stuck around and waited out delay were treated to brief acoustic set and according to reports on the internet, they followed that up with a set at The Green Pig, much to fans-who-were-in-the-know’s delight.
—Brian and Laurie Blake