Concert Review: TobyMac Builds Another Bridge in Portland

TobyMac Hits Deep Tour 2018

TobyMac perfectly blended mainstream style and melodies into modern praise music for his Hits Deep Tour 2018 that gave a well-attended Moda Center crowd on Saturday in Portland a bit of church but a full-fledged concert performance that thoroughly entertained.

TobyMac’s catalogue offers a diverse collection of songs that dives deep into hip hop, of course rap, but with some backbone of rock and a body of pop. Call it a new genre: Hip Pop. (You heard it here first.) He’s definitely a showman with a solid stage presence often knocking on the doors of Imagine Dragons without the guitar-centric rock chords while peering over at Bruno Mars. He offered some fun choreography with the Diverse City Band, his backing musicians, but instead of checking out on the music to simply mesmerize the audience on synchronous dance moves, like it feels from others in this brand, TobyMac extended his range and a message to enrapture the 10,000 plus in attendance.

In full disclosure, attending TobyMac was more about testing a camera received for Christmas. You can probably tell from past posts some rather lacking photos and where my musical tastes rest. So, with Costco’s 90-day return policy approaching it was now or never. And further fully disclosing, I don’t care for hip hop and certainly not rap. Yet, after seeing TobyMac who never wholly-out raps or freestyles (he left the stage for a DJ Maj solo which, well…) but instead occasionally incorporates this spoken word form mid-song like on “Love Broke Thru” or “Lose My Soul” which honestly, works pretty good  because it doesn’t suffocate.

Unlike Metallica and the sort, I completely understand why people don’t like heavy metal yet with rap I just don’t get it. But, in this world of opinionated opinions I’ll spare you my true feelings on this genre. Because…

TobyMac in Portland, Oregon
TobyMac on stage at the Moda Center in Portland, OR

Surely, TobyMac would agree that God works in mysterious ways as this was one rocking show and totally worth seeing again.

TobyMac, who hit the road just a few weeks ago to grab a break from the recording studio, started the evening with the more hip hop sounds of “Lights Shine Bright” and “Backseat Driver” before settling in (thankfully) with a string of strong pop influenced hits in “Me Without You,” “Beyond Me,” “Made to Love” and the radio favorite “Speak Life.”

“Eye On It” the title track to his 2012 release was heavy, hard and utterly fun while Diverse City turned marching band with horns high for “Move (Keep Walkin’)” as they followed their drum major on the catwalk from the mainstage to a stripped down platform in the center of the floor. Then, if you still haven’t figured out TobyMac he surrenders for “Steal My Show” and pulls you in by powering down and passionately expresses on “City On Our Knees,” “Love Broke Thru,” and “Undeniable.” Then! He hammers the first set home with a fantastic “Till The Day I Die.”

TobyMac Performance in Portland
TobyMac performs “Till the Day I die”

Indeed, TobyMac produced an eclectic fare of trend biting music that widely embraces his Christian faith while building the diverse bridges other candid Christian artists seemingly find unsuccessful. The co-founder of DC Talk, one of the more popular Christian bands from the 1990s which went on hiatus in 2000, offers hope, love and a thoroughly positive message (no F-bombs, N-words, mysogyny or hate fill-in-the-blank on this night) channeled around the latest grooves and beats that cross generations and a medley of music fans. Seriously, it’s not like Portland represents a mecca for Christianity nor the Pacific Northwest, for that matter, where TobyMac visited four arenas in less than a week.

TobyMac and Diverse City
TobyMac and some members of the Diverse City Band

Truly, TobyMac falls inside the same pea pod as Justin Timberlake whose brand certainly offers similar pleasing rhythms and harmonies while building an immense and diverse fan base. Arguably, both crossed the gap, from opposite sides, between the secular and religious off the same style, looks and hooks. But with TobyMac at 53 and his contemporary a wee 37 it raises the question of who came first. Justin Timberlake or TobyMac?

By the way. The camera? Well it did not fully impress however it achieved far better results than a cell phone camera and provided better resolution than a much older model. You be the judge.

TobyMac Hits Deep Tour 2018 Setlist at Moda Center:

  1. Lights Shine Bright
  2. Backseat Driver
  3. Me Without You
  4. Beyond Me
  5. Made To Love
  6. Speak Life
  7. Eye On It
  8. Steal My Show
  9. Catcha Fire (Whoopsi-Daisy)
  10. City On Our Knees
  11. Lose My Soul
  12. Move (Keep Walkin’)
  13. DJ Maj solo
  14. Love Broke Thru
  15. Undeniable
  16. Till The Day I Die
  17. I Just Need U
  18. Feel It

Written By: AndrewT

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