By Ashley Mott,
Arts & Entertainment Editor
From the moment the doors opened the rush for adrenaline could be felt throughout the lines of people waiting to enter the Wolstein Center. With each person in the door a breath of relief was felt, as people crept towards the final concert of Winter Jam 2019.
Inside people flooded the walk ways vying for the best seats in the area, as for the first time in Wolstein Winter Jam history, this was a 360 degree stage concert.
Artists could be seen from every angle of the stadium. With the end of the pre-jam concert session came a lineup that had been highly anticipated for months. The city of Cleveland was loud and proud, as their roar could be heard all around, as the first act hit the stage.
Hollyn ran onto the stage with a bang, her edgy indie vibe bringing life to the crowd in a flash of light. Bouncing across stage, she started the show off right and prepped the ears of the audience for all the music to come.
Following her came, long-time band and creator of Winter Jam, Newsong. Their performance included classics from the very beginning of their career, to some of their more current singles.
Their calm demeanor and praises to the Lord had guests everywhere lifting their hands and swaying to the beat. While their sound is classic to the tour, they brought with them an energy that was brand new, giving the last stop of 44, that little extra spark it needed before their gracious send off.
For the her first solo tour, Ledger took to the stage bouncing on with a tornado of electricity that immediately had audience members wondering who she was. Her song “Warrior” was a smash hit, as everyone jumped and sang along with her to the beat of the drums as they hit in unison with the chords struck by the guitar player.
Bounding her way through the set, she finished with her song “Not Dead Yet,” and opened up about her anxiety and fight to overcome it. She also assured fans that her solo tour did not mean her departure from Skillet, and instead meant that she would be residing in two bands.
Her departure from the stage was followed by a message of faith and love from multiple guest speakers, hoping to save a life of someone in the audience. However, while their messages were short, they were very powerful. Their stories moved people to sponsor a child who needed help gaining access to basic needs like clothing and fresh water. All over the stadium hands raised as they reached out for a packet of information on a child to help.
Their cries to help others could be heard as Rend Collective took to the stage in an Irish jig, teaching people to dance like never before. Their music over took the shouts and pounded into the ears of everyone, with a message of love and grace. However, while their message was powerful, they made sure their show was enjoyable by donning panda heads midway through and danced on stage like no one was watching.
Ending on a high note, Rend Collective welcomed long-time Christian artist Mandisa to the stage. Her voice caressing the audience as she told the story of a friend who had lost her life just one year after giving birth to her baby. Mandisa talked about how she retreated into herself, put a brave face on and hid from the world whenever possible. She told the audience how it was okay to be afraid and that even she had once thought of ending it all, but that she was an overcomer.
With those words, she belted out one of her top hits, “Overcomer,” and the crowd joined in with pleading cries. Choked voices could be heard roaring as the lyrics hit home for so many in the audience, their trials and battles were being vocalized in a song that so many could relate too. Working her way through the set, Mandisa brought the crowd to a chorus of voices, all singing together at once, prior to being joined onstage by Danny Gokey.
The two artists sang their hearts out, as they praised God for all that he had done, shouting hallelujah and amen to the highest. Gokey continued on singing, after Mandisa had said her farewells to the audience, and brought in a little Latin rhythm to his songs. His band danced and jivved to the beat. They even lined up on one side of the stage in almost a boy-band like manner.
Their movements were mimicked by the crowd as they shout lyrics to the skies, in a cry of voices. Gokey left the stage with words of kindness and salvation. He made it clear that he wanted to help other in their pursuit to make a difference.
While the stage was being set for headliner Newsboys United, Newsong lead singer Russ Lee came and told the story of a few young members of the church that gave their lives to Christ at a Winter Jam concert so many years ago. His message was inspiring and caused a movement of people to donate to the concert, of which the top 10 percent will go directly to charity.
The “love offering” is done to keep Winter Jam open to everyone, as the concert has never had a ticket and donations are welcomed but not necessary to come into the venue. The tour members know that not everyone can give to be there, but do not want to turn people away from the message of Christ because they don’t have money. It is this mentality that causes everyone to be let in regardless of payment, according to, founding member of the tour, Lee.
Atlast, after the love offering is taken up, Newsboys United hit the stage. Welcoming members new and old to the center of the arena, the band kicked off the set Newsboys classic “Born Again.” The song gave way to new originals from their upcoming album, “United (deluxe),” that is set to release in May of 2019.
Their show continued on with drum battles between current drummer Duncan Phillips and previous drummer Peter Furler, a few more songs and an introduction to every member of the band. However, nothing could compare to what has become a sort of anthem for Christians everywhere. “God’s Not Dead,” shook the arena as it was shouted from the lungs of every person in the Wolstein.
Voices chorused back and forth, as the band initiated a call and response with audience, just before starting their last song of the night. From their newest album, “Love,” was played for all to hear and feel. They sent the crowd off with that last wish for them, love above all else. The tour ended a success with Cleveland, Ohio being the last stop out of 44 shows.
Originally Published on The Cauldron.