Amy Grant, make room at the pop-rock altar for your friend Michael W. Smith.
His sweet voice, melodic rock tunes and MTV looks will make him the next contemporary Christian musician to have major success with mainstream audiences.
Already he has scored Top 40 airplay with is ballad "A Place in This World."
Smith had no trouble winning over a clapping, stomping audience of 2, 687 at Pershing Auditorium Thursday night.
The stage -- a maze of platforms and steel girders-featured a wide assortment of colored spotlights and smoke machines. In other words, all the elaborate toys for a pumped-up rock concert.
SMITH HELD the center spotlight for much of the hour-and-45-minute performance -- dancing, playing piano, and singing. Definite teen-idol material, he has a bit of George Michael stubble, a mane of model's hair and a 1,000-watt smile. Judging by the squeals in the audience, many young girls have made that discovery.
His music is a mixture of pop, hard rock, and gospel, with an occasional odd reggae or African rhythm thrown in. Backed by a tight eight-man ensemble, Smith moved smoothly through about 20 songs -- most of them from his latest album, "Go West Young Man," from which his current tour takes its name.
Smith is musician more than preacher. His spirituality speaks out in lyrics, hip-hop dancing, rapping and piano playing. The audience responded with familiarity much of the time, singing along on some of the slower pieces.
The band opened with a couple blasts of hard rock, but galloped quickly into "Go West" territory with the peppy, melodic "For You."
Smith, who played electronic keyboard much of the time, moved to the grand piano for a quiet solo session that showed off his pianistic skills; from the gospel flavor of "How Long Will Be Too Long?" to the sweet, melodic "Emily," punctuated by a fine sax solo. A wedding song, "Cross My Heart," was also memorable.
Band member Mike E, on guitar, took the spotlight for a couple of revved-up rap tunes that switched the show back into high-energy mode.
Highlights of the second half included Smith at the grand piano for "Place in This World," an audience favorite that generated much applause, and "Go West Young Man" -- accented by flashing spotlights all over the auditorium.
SMITH DONNED sunglasses for "Love Crusade," an appealing rocker that brought a crowd of fans to the front of the stage dancing and clapping.
DC Talk, the best-selling rap group in Christian music, opened Thursday's show with a mixture of fancy choreography, gymnastics and religious-themed raps. A trio of singer/rappers backed by four other dancers, DC Talk is a smart-looking bunch of performers.
One instrumentalist on the keyboard, plus pre-recorded bass lines, provided background. "Lean On Me," the classic Bill Withers tune, got fine rap treatment in the trio's best number.
[Can this be what the Apostle Paul meant by "singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thanksgiving and praise to the lord" (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16)?]
[Typical of what is dubbed "Christian" music today -- "make room at the pop rock alter" aptly describes the goings-on in "religious"/Contemporary Christian music.]
* This material has been excerpted from the The Lincoln Star on May 10, 1991. All emphases added.