Country star Vince Gill and contemporary Christian star Amy Grant hardly get a chance to tour together. Their paths rarely cross when out on the road playing to their respective fan bases but the married couple has made a habit of getting together during the month of December to take their joint Christmas show out on the road. [All photos by Tracy May.]
Last Saturday, Gill and Grant brought their latest "12 Days Of Christmas" tour to a packed Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater much to the delight of everyone in attendance. Rather than splitting the show into equal parts representing the chosen genre of each, Vince and Amy touched on a variety of styles and sounds that brought the holiday selections they chose to perform to life.
Grant opened the show at 8 p.m. sharp with a frenetic, sped up rendition of "Jingle Bells" not unlike the Barbra Streisand version from her 1967 release, A Christmas Album. Grant and Gill took turns on lead vocals for most of the night, playfully flip-flopping vocal duties. Gill followed up with his version of the classic "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year." Besides showing off his smooth vocal style, Gill also displayed his greatest talent -- his phenomenal guitar playing. The beautiful Gretsch hollow body guitar he sported for most of the evening gave the performance a warm sound that complemented the holiday mood perfectly.
Backed by a very large band featuring a full horn section and backup singers (including Gill's own daughter, Jennie) the couple treated the receptive crowd to lots of familiar tunes as well as some newer material to give the holiday-themed show a bit of variety. Breaking up the show into two portions divided by a 20-minute intermission, the performers seemed high on good spirits and cheer -- exactly the type of fun, joyous performance the sold-out crowd came to partake in.
The couple joked and jabbered between songs, touching on personal experiences and stories that brought a personal touch to the night. While it would have been easy to turn this type of husband/wife musical Christmas show into a corny, sickly sweet event, both Gill and Grant each possess the right amount of charm and honesty to make it a fun and spirited night out.
Throughout the evening, the always radiant Grant took several opportunities to mention what the the true meaning of Christmas is by sharing personal stories and tales. A real lump-in-the-throat moment came when Grant, in stressing that Christmas is not about expensive gifts and excess, told a personal story involving the kindness bestowed upon her by country music singer/songwriter Guy Clark. She'd asked Clark to write out the lyrics to his song "Randall Knife" in order to have them framed for a special Christmas gift for Gill, who'd recently lost his father. The subject matter of the particular song was especially poignant for Gill that year as it would be his first Christmas without his dad. Clark responded by tearing out his original draft of his lyrics from his original composition book and gave them to Grant to make her present to her husband more meaningful.
So besides treating the audience to an evening full of joyous music and their individual talents, Amy Grant and Vince Gill also reminded us about the real meaning of Christmas. With the chemistry they share onstage and the type of enormous talent each brings to the stage, here's hoping the couple will continue to tour together and spread their warm brand of cheer.