Tree63 Keep Joy Alive

Canada Christian College
May 2, 2005
On Monday May 2nd Tree63 performing at Canada Christian College demonstrated once again that they are in a class of their own. This is a band that you simply do not say sonically they sound like this band or that band. Fronted by lead vocalist and guitarist John Ellis this South African trio simply define the standard great when it comes to Christian rock / worship music.

Playing for close to an hour Tree63 barely made it to the concert as Canadian customs appeared to put all kinds of roadblocks in their way. Arriving shortly after the All God's Children event began they didn't look any worse for the wear. With ripping guitar riffs accompanied by one of the best drummers in the music industry today, Thinus Odendaal, Tree63 had their fans into their set right from the beginning of their one hour set.

The concert featured many songs from their current album, The Answer to the Question, which was recognized by the South African Music Association in April as the Best Rock Album of 2004. The band also played several of their earlier tunes from the self titled album.

Ellis led the audience through a rousing rendition of Blessed Be the Name. The song penned by Matt and Beth Redman was honored at this year's Dove Awards as Song of the Year. The audience responded by singing the words to this fan favorite.

Some songs like "Joy" from their first and self titled album seemed to last forever but this should not be misconstrued as a negative comment but rather the opposite as the crowd savored the moment and again joined their rock band heroes / worship leaders in singing the words to the song.

On most nights you would say bassist Daniel Ornellas and Ellis were easily the most talented guitarists on the bill but you would be pressed to make that argument on a night that also featured Building 429 fronted by Jason Roy and Paul Colman a guitar virtuoso in his own right who also doubled as host for the World Vision sponsored event.

If you are someone who doesn't follow music put out by Christian musicians and don't think it is possible for such artists to write a love song both lyrically and melodically then you need to find a copy of the album The Answer to the Question and listen to "I Stand For You". As I listened to Tree63 play this number I could think of no other way to describe the tune than a love song to our Lord. Ellis once again led the crowd through the opening words:
Jesus, I stand for you
No matter what you lead me through
They will chase me out
And close me down
But Jesus, I'll stand for you

And then through the chorus:

I'll always stand
I'll always stand
I'll always stand for you

The closing number of the set featured Tree63 being joined by their fans in a very upbeat version of Amazing Grace. For the encore Tree63 was joined on stage by Paul Colman as the band played a cover of U2's Pride (In the Name of Love). Ellis and Colman took turns leading on vocals.

Seldom does a rock band manage to bridge several generations but as you surveyed the auditorium you witnessed middle aged folk bopping their heads, waving their hands and clapping. Pressing to the front of the stage were the younger fans.

If you live in Edmonton or Winnipeg you might want to hustle out and buy your tickets today for stops in those cities later in the year. Tree63 is only playing three gigs in Canada this year and if you couldn't be in Toronto you will want to be at one of the two aforementioned concerts.

Writer: Joe Montague

Photo:Joe Montague

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