There are many ways I could go with this review of the Jennifer Knapp/Derek Webb show last night at Bob’s Place. I believe what I will do is take the high road and just start by saying, To each their own, I nor anyone is in a place to judge someones personal choices. So those without can be the first to cast the stone.
With the happening in the Knapp camp over the past week this was a show that was set up to be very surprising and controversial or very entertaining and intimate. Thankfully the latter of the two was the way it went.
All three artists in attendance were stripped down and soulful in their approach to their sets. Amy Courts started off the night with a strong voice and good guitar work. She did at times come across like a star struck child, the way she kept pumping up Knapp and Webb. Let me just say, you have some talent, lean on that and let it sustain you, don’t walk in the shadow of others.
The show originally set to play the Cain’s main-stage was moved to Bob’s Place due to smaller than expected ticket sales. Honestly it was a good decision. This type of show was not meant for a big hall but much more of a front room environment and it met that in the smaller bar setting.
After Courts played her 3 song set highlighted with final song “Shiver” immediately Derek Webb sauntered onto the stage, mixed drink in hand, picked up his guitar and began strumming away. No need for a break during sets, it was a smooth transitioning acoustic masterpiece.
Webb, who tends to go his own way in his songwriting, played a set of impromptu songs with some requests from the crowd scattered in. Stating at one point, “Make sure you take care of the lovely bartender in the corner and if you feel a little hesitant to drink, you can always buy one and bring it to the stage for me.” That being said he launched into on of his many poignant and thought provoking songs, part way through receiving a drink from Taylor Hanson (of Hanson). After the song, picking up the can and taking a swig saying, “Oh, thank you for the workout beer, this is what you drink at the gym right?” Bringing laughs from those that have found it just fine to pull up some floor and have a seat.
Webb puts lots of thought and feeling into each of his songs, very much the thinker. He seems to not move forward with a song unless it has something that will grab the listener and kind of shake them up some. As with the song written for Freddy Phelps, pastor (loosely put) of a church (again loosely put) in KC that does more protesting and bashing of people than to teach the Gospel. Stating, “If you don’t know who this guy is, don’t Google him or pay him any mind,” Webb continues, “He is not worth your time.”
Stand out song, in my opinion, for this set was “I Want To Marry You All Over Again,” a song written for his wife of 10 years that retraces the steps of their courtship and quick moving relationship. One of those that makes you call up your loved one and tell them what you are feeling.
After a short intermission, the petite young lady from Kansas made her way onstage to a small ovation and rips right into “Whole Again” from her Kansas album. It is stripped down to only her extremely powerful voice and her Taylor guitar. She needs little more than this. When you hear her you have to say to yourself, “How does such a big voice come out of such a small body?”
Knapp played a summer camp that I was a leader at years back and still has the same polished chops that she did then, although now more mature and somewhat jaded. It does nothing but add to the package.
Her songs touch on soulful emotion and family. “Mr. Gray” a country style song about her grandfather was meaningful and graceful. “Dive In” a song of a person on the edge of major commitment and choosing to not tip toe but dive in. Finally show closer, “Letting Go” title track from her upcoming release was a bit of a show stopper and ended the set perfectly.
The only reference that she made to her recent news was when she asked, “Is there anyone uncomfortable with the elephant in the room?” To which there was no response. Adding, ” This was something that was done for you, [the fans] because I don’t think you should be hoodwinked into buying my music. No one should be something that they are not to try and sell records.” This little nugget put to rest, it was on with the show.
The small but intimate show was exactly what it needed to be and could not have gone off better. No matter what your opinion of what her lifestyle is you need to set it aside and listen to what her music says. Same with the other acts.
Jesus was a man of controversy and shook up everyone He came in contact with. Funny how we tend to forget that and still see that He was a man of love first and foremost and even though He made all of us uncomfortable in some way, then and now, it tends to be comfort that keeps us from doing some truly history making things. Go out and do what others wouldn’t expect of you.
Welcome back Jennifer.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
About the writer:
Ernie Osborn is a California transplant that has been around the music business much of his life. He has been in bands and currently plays guitar and sings when called upon to do so. He also writes articles in the Tulsa Speaks section entitled, “Whatever Happened To…” check it out.