The Gray Havens perform at LaHaye Event Space

There was nothing “gray” about the Gray Havens concert Friday, March 1 at the LaHaye Event Space.

Even the opening acts played into the color scheme.

 Allison Heise| Liberty Champion
ACOUSTIC —Chris Renzema offers signature mellow sounds. 

The first act, a band named “Gray,” joked about the irony of opening for “The Gray Havens,” though they emphasized that there was no affiliation between the two. The starting band, named after the lead singer, played songs of worship akin to cathedral music with what sounded like a church organ. Though the first songs were melodic and deep, they were not afraid to crank up the drums and keyboards for the latter half of their set. 

Singer-songwriter Chris Renzema elicited cheers from the audience. He had only his acoustic guitar, which contributed to his country vibes, but being alone on stage did not intimidate him.

“I don’t have a band, but I have you,” Renzema said, smiling into the audience.

Then Gray Havens took the stage.

Although the members were dressed in muted colors, with a white canvas decorated with black birds and emblazoned with “The Gray Havens,” fluorescent lights gleamed out into the audience. Pink, gold, blue and purple lights roamed the room, washing the walls in a rainbow effect. The band’s songs were filled with colors, too — from “Band of Gold” to the sun-filled lyrics of “Three Birds in Babylon.”

Before the band started, Lead Singer Dave Radford told of his heart and passion for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Of the thousands of languages in the world, only a relatively small number had partial Bibles, and even fewer had complete Bibles.

“This has to be the biggest crisis in the world,” Radford said.

He asked the audience to consider a monthly donation or a one-time gift to the organization to help with this issue.

Allison Heise | Liberty Champion
HAUNTING — The Gray Havens’ song “Ghost of a King” was inspired by a sermon series.

Then the music began. Radford was correct to describe the band as “narrative pop folk.” Listening to them sounded like walking into the middle of a “Lord of the Rings” or “Narnia” novel — fantastical, gentle, and brimming with adventure.

As soon as he strummed the first notes on his guitar, the audience erupted into cheers for the hauntingly slow “Ghost of a King.” The song is basically the Gospel put to music; Radford afterwards discussed that the band’s most popular hit came from a convicting sermon series.

“I thought I knew what being born again was until I listened to this sermon series,” Radford said. 

The band’s songs span the spectrum of music, from the sweet and somber “Three Birds in Babylon” to the hopeful, expectant “Gone are the Days.” Radford rapped the song “High Enough,” which originally featured Christian hip-hop artist Propaganda.

During a brief intermission, Radford enticed audience members to follow the band on social media. A random picking of Instagram followers resulted in one lucky fan coming on stage and winning a children’s book, titled “Gray Flowers,” written by the band

Ending with the old hit “Train Station,” the band members appeared to exit the stage — only to come back without warning.

“We are pretending that there have been shouts of ‘encore, encore!’” Radford said, laughing, asking the audience to humor him. “We really want to play an unreleased song for you guys, without any technology.”

A quiet hush settled over the audience as Radford and his wife, Licia Radford, harmonized with the guitar. They offered a song of utter worship; their voices filled with passion. 

Afterwards, the audience sat for a moment completely silent, captivated in the moment of adoration. Then they broke into cheers.

While the cheering commenced, a Student Activities event staff member started a question-and-answer session, inquiring about how the
couple got together and what their future plans were. 

Allison Heise | Liberty Champion
GENRE — Dave Radford performed “narrative pop folk.”

The Radfords playfully passed the microphone back and forth on the questions, giving small responses, until the interviewer asked about the recording process.

Dave Radford paused to collect his thoughts. He talked about how he dealt with writer’s block in the crucial months before the album deadline and how his sickness affected his ability to concentrate. He almost gave up, but persevered, even after the deadline. His faith struggled but remained above the surface.

“I kept praying, ‘God, why did you call me to something I can’t do?’” Dave Radford said of his illness. “But time after time and grace after grace … on the last day of recording, we made it; we were done. I tell you that story because it is good to hear that God is faithful, good — he will never leave you or forsake you. You are his. That’s it. If we have Jesus, we have everything.”

The tour dates for The Gray Havens and ticket information can be found on the group’s website.

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