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TobyMac Hits Deep Tour: A humble man on display

Last weekend I had the incredible opportunity to see Toby Mac live and in concert. For most, this may not sound like a great accomplishment, but as the father of four, getting out with my wife for an entire evening takes nothing less than a special alignment of the stars. This small miracle could not have resulted in a more impactful concert going experience, where my wife and I witnessed a jaw-dropping performance from the most humble musician that's ever headlined a tour.

An Artist in a League of His Own:

I have not been the biggest fan of TobyMac's music in the past. I never thought his songs were bad, but I usually prefer to listen to a different genre. Recently, TobyMac has been enjoying a surge in popularity, and has released songs that I really like. He has always had a strong following amongst Christian music listeners, but his most recent songs are finding success even with broader audiences. He even collaborated with music industry legend Sheryl Crow on his latest release.

In addition to his success, TobyMac brings decades of experience to the stage. He has been an active musician since 1987, but shows no signs of slowing down. TobyMac's energy on stage, his artistry and the musicians he surrounds himself with are nothing short of amazing. However, what I found to be the most impressive of all was the humility with which he conducts himself.

A Performer Like No Other:

The show I attended was at the Rio Rancho Event Center in New Mexico. It's a medium sized theater with 7,500 seats and a parking lot that knows most of New Mexico's residents drive vehicles with four-wheel drive. We got to the concert a few minutes after it started and were literally parked in a ditch. Touring with TobyMac are up and coming Christian acts Cochren and Co., Cain, and Terrain, as well as David Crowder, who could probably head line the tour himself. Each act delivered stellar performances on their own, but still could not compete with the main event.

While I am sure TobyMac's performance would compare favorably with other similar hip-hop and rock concerts, what sets him apart is how he arranges the show in order to spotlight every musician around him. TobyMac is considered a solo act, but his band, Diverse City, is a line up of artists that may each have more talent than the front man. TobyMac seems to realize this fact himself. Unlike other solo performers, TobyMac's band is visually prominent to the audience, and each member is an active participant in the show. They each sang, danced, and played their instruments in the limelight at various times during the concert. At one point, TobyMac even left the stage and the theater went dark except for a spotlight that illuminated a trumpet player playing a solo!

TobyMac also invited each of his opening acts onstage to join in the fun. He had the crowd sing happy birthday to one of the members of Cain, Crowder sang into the pickups of an electric guitar, and Michael Cochren showed off his singing prowess while TobyMac laid on the front of the stage to watch along with the audience. TobyMac continually struck me as a musician who couldn't believe he was in the presence of such great talent, and he wanted to make sure that his audience knew that too. Instead of making himself the star attraction, he propped those around him upon his shoulders in order to elevate the entire show.

Meaning That Hits Deep:

TobyMac and all of the opening acts are unashamed of their Christian faith and make that faith an important aspect of their performances. Christianity may rub some concert goers the wrong way, but this additional element adds a depth to the experience that is lacking in other concerts. The musicians are not just entertaining, but also worshiping God with their talents.

The most memorable moment for me came in the middle of TobyMac's set. Two years ago, TobyMac's oldest son, Truett, died from an accidental overdose. This event shook TobyMac. He wrote the song 21 Years through that experience, and it was the performance of this song that floored me. Before starting the song, TobyMac took time to thank the audience for their support through such a horrible event in his life, and to also pray for the city of Rio Rancho. The song was performed acoustically and with TobyMac and two of the members of Diverse City singing into a single microphone. The intimate feel of the song broke at the songs bridge:

"Did he see You from a long way off runnin' to him with a father's heart? Did You wrap him up inside Your arms and let him know that he's home?"

Unlike the rest of the song, TobyMac did not sing these lyrics. He shouted these two question directly to God, and in the process invited the audience to glimpse into a father's grief. For a brief moment, no one in the audience could see TobyMac the artist, but Toby McKeehan, a father who lost his son. He had stripped off the fame and glitter, and put on his humanity. But what was also apparent was his hope in eternal security given to him by his Christian faith. He invited thousands of people into the deepest parts of himself, and it was at that moment that I was convinced TobyMac just might be the most humble man in the entire entertainment industry.

The concert didn't stay somber long. The performance seamlessly transitioned back to full throttle despite having made everyone in attendance cry. The rest of the set list consisted of older hits along with TobyMac's latest, and I've been humming or whistling his tunes to myself ever since leaving the event center. My only criticism of TobyMac's Hits Deep concert is that he insists on wearing a hat while performing.


TobyMac is on tour now. Check out his website for tour dates and ticket sales so you can see him at concert near you.

Corey D. Evans received no financial compensation in exchange for giving this review.

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