In Concert

by: Amy Grant

The brain trust surrounding Amy Grant, in particular producer Brown Bannister, seems to have recognized that despite still being only 20 years old, the singer had reached a new plateau of professionalism by early 1981. She had released three studio albums and had plenty of performances under her belt, and her management arranged what was really her first major tour, for which she was backed by the rock band of DeGarmo & Key. Bannister was wise to record some of those shows for release on what turned out to be two live albums, In Concert and In Concert, Vol. 2. (The discs were drawn from the same shows in Tulsa and Norman, OK, and probably but for the perceived spending limits of the Christian record-buying public would have been packaged together as a double-album instead of being released as two separate ones.) The performances heard on this first collection capture a winning combination of competence and ingenuousness on the part of the singer. She is fully up to the demands of entertaining her listeners as she fronts Bannister's sophisticated pop/rock arrangements of songs from her earlier discs. But she also melts her audience's hearts with her self-deprecating humor and youthful earnestness. (Not that she seems to see herself as so young; she makes a point of looking back with affectionate embarrassment at her beginnings as a performer when she was 15.) This means that the most moving parts of the show are those when she sings with just an acoustic guitar for accompaniment, although the intimate moments are relieved by the uptempo material played by the band. There are two previously unheard songs, "Mimi's House," Grant's reminiscence of her great-grandmother, and the pop-gospel tune "Singing a Love Song." ~ William Ruhlmann

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