Steve Taylor/Hokus Pick/Guardian Concordia College St. Paul, MN

[Image: Squinternational Tour Steve Taylor/Hokus Pick/Guardian (Review) - CCM Magazine, December 1994 Page 68 Thumbnail]
Page 68

CCM Magazine
December 1994 Volume 17 Number 6
© 1994 by CCM Publications, Inc.
Pages 68, 70

[Photo and caption: Steve Taylor keeps the Concordia College audience on its feet as only he can with songs from his latest album, Squint.]

It was a cold and rainy night when Steve Taylor's "Squinternational" tour hit St. Paul, but that couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of his hundreds of fans who turned out for three hours of hot rock.

Canada's Hokus Pick opened the show with its unique brand of college rock. A friend described Hokus Pick as "the perfect opening band: they get the crowd fired up, they're good enough so that nobody will leave, but they're not so good that anybody will think they're better than the headliner."

The second spot on the bill was filled by Dakoda Motor Co. during the first four shows of the tour, but well-known Christian rockers Guardian--normally a headlining band--are finishing out the Squinternational tour. Guardian did a 45-minute set showing off a little of its "kinder, gentler" sound from Swing, Swang, Swung, and a whole lot of the harsher, louder sound their fans know and love. In an evening of hard-driving rock, what stood out were Guardian's quieter songs, including the melancholy "See You in Heaven," which was interrupted as it neared the end by a brief power loss which knocked the amplifers off-line.

It was nearly 10 p.m. by the time Taylor and his band took the stage, but they were well worth the wait. Taylor grabbed the crowd with his opening number, "On the Moshing Floor," and never let go through 90 minutes of inspired rock.

As you'd expect from an appearance billed as the "Squinternational" tour, Taylor did nearly every song from his latest album, Squint, but he also did plenty of material from the albums before his self-imposed five year exile from Christian rock.

A reinterpretation of the title cut from his debut album, I Want to Be a Clone, was even more frenetic than the original version, while "On the Fritz" was given a sparse, raw sound. The yodeling on "Meltdown" is certainly a new touch, and "Hero" still tugs at the heartstrings the way it did a decade ago.

Taylor's band includes Chagall Guevara alum Wade Jaynes on bass, Chris Kearney on drums, and guitarists Mark Townsend and Greg Wollan. The evening was strictly a "what you see is what you get" concert experience. The lack of prerecorded augmentation and elabroate sets or costumes put the emphasis squarely on the live concert sound, and Taylor and company were clearly up to the challenge.

While Taylor and his band delivered album-perfect renditions of many of the pieces from Squint, there was also surprises lurking in their performance of the newer material, ranging from an eye-opening extended guitar solo in "Smug," to scat singing in "Easy Listening," to a mini-tribute to The Knack during "Bannerman."

A highlight of the show was "Bannerman," which featured an appearance by the caped superhero himself--the pay-off to a long-running bit between Taylor and his road crew over the positioning of a mike stand. Taylor explained that "Bannerman" is a "straight-up tribute" to people who are on the front lines doing street preaching or working in soup kitchens.

Taylor used "Jim Morrison's Grave" as a starting point for reflecting on the searching that drove rockers like Morrison or Kurt Cobain. He talked about the way he fulfilled that search in his own life, then introduced the song "Jesus is for Losers" as his personal testimony. An emotionally gripping version of "The Finish Line" topped off that portion of the concert.

After closing out his performance with "Meltdown," the crowd demanded an encore. Taylor came back with audience participation versions of "Cash Cow" and his closer, "We Don't Need No Colour Code." So the evening ended with Taylor's fans shouting along on a song that robs an evil of its power through ridicule--a fitting end to the concert, and a wonderful justification for Taylor's welcome return to the world of Christian rock.

Doug Trouten