VINCE GILL, AMY GRANT SPLIT THE BILL FOR STARLIGHT GALA AT BIRMINGHAM’S ALYS STEPHENS CENTER
What: A his-and-her concert, the centerpiece of theAlys Stephens Center’sStarlight Gala. It’s an annual fundraiser for the performing arts center and its programs.
When and where: 7 p.m. June 6 in the 1,300-seat Jemison Concert Hall. The event included a reception before the show and dinner afterward, depending on the ticket prices.
Atmosphere: More casual than in years past — the audience wore suits and dresses instead of tuxedos and evening gowns — to accord with the performers’ preferences and personalities. Grant and Gill exuded warmth and humor on stage, embracing the crowd in goodwill.
Program: The show was split into two parts. Grant, 52, took the first half, playing pop and contemporary Christian tunes with three backing musicians. Gill, 56, followed her, offering country and bluegrass with a seven-member band. Each set lasted about 50 minutes, with no intermission between them. As a transition, the couple offered a single duet, beaming as they sang “House of Love.” (Released in 1994, it sparked their personal and professional relationship.)
Grant setlist: Included “Anywhere With Jesus,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Saved by Love,” “El Shaddai,” “They’ll Know We Are Christians,” “Our Time Is Now” and “Don’t Try So Hard.” The latter two are new songs, plucked from Grant’s latest record, “How Mercy Looks From Here.”
Gill setlist: Included “One More Last Chance,” “Take Your Memory With You,” “Pretty Little Adriana,” “High Lonesome Sound,” “Whenever You Come Around” and “Liza Jane.”
On Grant: Sweet and serene, she took the audience to church. Grant’s choirgirl past provided the bedrock of her set, without any hint of fire and brimstone. Her performance was easygoing and low-key, filled with lyrical observations about life, faith and love.
On Gill: “We’re gonna go from the church house to the beer house,” he said. “Here we go.” That summed it up; Gill’s performance boosted the energy level, raised the volume and showcased his skills on electric guitar. He’s a mighty fine singer, as well.
Quibbles: Hoping for a full night of duets? That wasn’t happening. But bear in mind that Grant and Gill don’t usually tour together, with the exception of Christmas concerts. Working up an entirely new show probably wasn’t practical for one night in Birmingham.
Final note: Never underestimate the power of golf. Gill’s golf buddy Jim Gorrie lured him to this year’s Starlight Gala. (Gorrie and his wife, Alison, were honorary chairmen of the benefit.) The Regions Tradition tournament, happening this week at Shoal Creek Golf Course, was part of the appeal for Gill and Grant, as well.