I just returned home from a Derek Webb concert.
Derek’s venue was the Gypsy Tea Room near downtown Dallas in the area known by locals as Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum used to be the hip part of town, the place where all the young urban twenty-somethings would descend every weekend for dining, music, and club hopping. This once very popular center has declined over the past several years as most of the nightlife has moved to the new and trendy “uptown” area.
If you have ever been to a Christian concert, you might have been surprised by this one. When I saw and heard the Marilyn Manson style death-metal band screeching in the room adjacent to Derek’s, I knew this particular outing was not going to be your standard Point-of-Grace-at-Prestonwood kind of a thing. The Gypsy Tea Room is a decidedly non-religious venue. Nevertheless, this is actually the second Christian concert that I’ve been to there.
I went to the concert with the expectation of hearing Derek talk a lot. If you have been to any of his shows in recent years, you know he talks a lot—maybe even more than he sings. But at this show, he sang most of the time, which was a good thing. He took requests from the audience at the beginning of the show for about 30 minutes, then after a five-minute break, he and his wife Sandra McCracken played through the new album from start to finish without stopping.
I can affirm again what I have said before on this blog. Derek is an amazing musician and songwriter. His performance was outstanding. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire show.
But, as I have also pointed out before on this blog, this latest album “Mockingbird” leaves me with a lot of questions. On the album, it is clear that he has taken a left-turn politically, singing songs affirming pacifism and opposing the death penalty. One even detects an implied protest against the Iraq War in the song “My Enemies Are Men Like Me.”
Here are my questions. What is the message that Derek is trying to get across? What can be said about the theology underlying the message?
In two posts over the next two days, I will make a go at answering those questions.