American gospel quartet Ernie Haase and Signature Sound were back at Clickimin on Wednesday night for their second visit bringing southern gospel music to the isles.
The internationally-acclaimed group put on an inspirational and highly polished performance of a couple of hours of varied music, getting the audience – large but not quite a sell-out – to clap and sing.
The four men, who have recently played in Romania, Latvia, Australia and New Zealand, sang their own distinctive versions of southern gospel music, including their own compositions. They impressed immediately with their easy charm and precise vocal harmonies, and also demonstrated the chemistry between them.
Backed by four musicians on keyboard, guitars and drums (behind a screen) their repertoire showcased the talents of all, with frontman Ernie Haase doing the introductions. They sang numbers such as Since Jesus Passed By and others with catchy refrains, such as “Jesus died on a tree for me/And I’m going to live for ever.”
The songs chosen by the group, which includes lead singer tenor Devin McGlamery, baritone Doug Anderson (who has been with Haase since the group was formed) and bass Ian Owens, a relative newcomer, draw heavily on the sounds of the 1940s and 50s, but are right up to date as well.
Their energetic performances in four-part harmony were a joy and the varied tempo of the songs – at times plaintive and at others almost heavy rock – kept the audience engaged. One moving moment came when all four, looking immaculate in grey suits and red ties, sang without microphones and without accompaniment, which drew cheers from the audience.
Another highlight was the song Any Other Man, which Haase said was written to deal with anger. In this number the group sang seperately and together: it also featured the talents of their new guitarist. With coloured lights and billowing smoke the performance was extremely powerful and moving.
The group was accessible during the interval when T-shirts, CDs and DVDs were sold, and they used the evening to raise awareness of the plight of the Dalit community in India, where they will shortly be performing two concerts.
They were ably supported by the North Ness Boys, who opened with a short set which included a stirring rendition of the 23rd Psalm and the hymn Rock of Ages.