“Is heaven a place you fly off to
When the day is done?
Or do you work right here
On an earthbound love song?”
Over The Rhine sang this very early on in their set at Belfast’s Black Box and I immediately knew why I love these guys and call them my favourite band in the world.
This half verse tells you everything that they are about. They inhabit this space between the soul and the heart. Actually they inhabit a world where the soul and the heart revolve around each other, highlight each other and too oftentimes bump into each other, hurting but somehow eventually redeeming.
No one else inhabits such a scared space or if they do, no one does it so well.
Tonight is a lonely treat. In the country as part of a Retreat they decided to do just one concert. It left my English friends rather jealous. We were blessed to be in the room.
Linford Detweiler plays that piano as one having authority and not as the scribes as Jesus might have put it. His long time lover and soul and muse companion Karin Berquist sings like an angel. She can express exhilaration and heartache with the same gentle power. Her voice is sensual romantically and spiritually, flirting with her love the one moment and connecting with God in literary song prayers the next. Earthbound Love indeed.
There is a relaxed feel tonight. I don’t know Linford and Karin that well but when I am with them I sense more shy than gregarious, careful with their company, intentional in conversation but when you put a microphone in front of them they are very relaxed, very open, very honest, very funny.
Linford points out how angels appear a lot in Over The Rhine songs. Indeed the are doing a whole evening of such songs in November. He also talks about Biblical visitations of angels and how those visited are told not to be afraid. Angels here are almost songs to help with our fear.
Tonight is an interesting set list. Broken Angels is the only offering off their last record Love and Revelation, there is nothing off my favourite record Ohio, and three off the often passed by album Trumpet Child.
Highlights are way too many. The surprise of Like A Radio from their debut record ‘TiI We Have Faces, title nicked from a Belfast man, CS Lewis, Christine McVie’s Songbird is a tasteful cover, All My Favourite People Are Broken to an audience who know we are and are thankful for such a testifying and All I Want Is Everything with the crowd singing:
All I need is everything.
Inside, outside, feel new skin.
All I need is everything.
Feel the slip and the grip of grace again
Best of all was a brand new song called Heron Blue that has us waiting eagerly for a new record. It was a song whose lyric took me out of a Belfast bar to feel that I could see that elegant bird, celebrate it, find our hearts and souls singed by its God given wonder.
So many thoughts for my soul and heart to surmise in a wonderful evening of Earthbound Love Songs. Thank you guys!