Home > Concert Photos, Indie Rock, Philosophy, Rock & Pop, Singer-Songwriter > REVIEW: Derek Webb & Jennifer Knapp @ Aladdin (Portland, OR – 4/27/10)

REVIEW: Derek Webb & Jennifer Knapp @ Aladdin (Portland, OR – 4/27/10)

28th Apr 10 (Wed) Leave a comment Go to comments


There’s something about songwriters that draw me in.  With Derek Webb, I’ve been a long time fan since 1996… ever since first seeing him with his folksy-poppy band Caedmon’s Call.  While I dug Caedmon’s a lot as a group, I really enjoyed Derek’s songwriting the most.  He seemed to have the more “real life” songs – ones I could relate to the most.  His initial departure from the band went OK with me, as he kept making solo music… starting out in the traditional acoustic and then morphing into more rock and even electronic-infused meets acoustic.  His last album, 2009’s Stockholm Syndrome, was one of my favorites from last year (#3 to be exact).

Stockholm Syndrome fuses some great keys & beats from fellow Caedmon’s Call member Joshua Moore with Derek’s solid songwriting.  Lyrically, Derek tackles many issues that I think are relevant and important to everyone (not just christians) – including, but not limited to, addressing Fred “God Hates F-gs” Phelps from the hate-mongering Westboro Baptist Church (“Freddie Please”) to one-side of a superficial relationship with a club beat (“Jena & Jimmy”) to the conflict of a walk of faith and easier route living in the world at large (at least, that’s my take on “The Spirit Vs. The Kick Drum”) to the seemingly-singling out of homosexuality in the church as a major sin (What Matters More).

“What Matters More” is a song that resonates with me, as it is a big part of why I eventually left the church.  The church’s singling out of one sin over another really hit me as hypocritical, legalistic, and not loving.  If this was the god that the bible talked about, I didn’t want to be part of this disease.  If this wasn’t god’s view, then I didn’t want to be part of this group of “believers.”  Regardless of my personal road that led to a lack of faith and becoming an atheist, I still hold Derek’s music closely, as I think of any christian artist, he seems to “get it.”

Derek going out on tour with Jennifer Knapp ended up being a perfect match (she just “came out” as being in a long-term, committed same-sex relationship).  This isn’t shocking to me, and I wish it didn’t even have to be mentioned.  Why is someone’s sexuality any of our business? I suppose that in this day and age, especially coming from a christian musician, this “coming out” has to occur to set the record straight that there is nothing wrong with this.  I’m happy that she was finally comfortable coming back into making music, touring and coming out to be true to herself.  I didn’t know much of her music prior to this show (though she was on my radar back when I was a music buyer at a christian bookstore in the Midwest), but I was equally excited to see her play alongside Derek.

Amy Courts opened the show right at 8pm.  She only played about 3 songs, but had a lot of banter (she was up there about 20 minutes).  Her banter was quite adorable, and her songs were in a similar acoustic singer-songwriter vein to both Webb & Knapp.  Amy had a gentler song in the middle, but her opener and closer showed off her powerful voice.  Definitely a good warm up…

Derek Webb went on immediately after Amy.  I guess with a bunch of acoustic guitars and no backing bands, it’s easy to stack the artists right after one another.

Prior to the show, I wasn’t sure how the Stockholm Syndrome songs would translate to solo acoustic, and according to Derek – he can only play about half of them on a solo tour.  With that being said, he played a good mix of older tunes, newer tunes, and even a brand new Caedmon’s Call song…

Derek’s Setlist: about 50 mins

  • Heaven
  • A Love That’s Stronger Than Our Fear
  • New Law
  • My Enemies Are Men Like Me
  • Freddie, Please
  • Nobody Loves Me
  • God’s Home Town (new Caedmon’s Call song)
  • Wedding Dress
  • What Matters More
  • American Flag Umbrella

My favorites from his set were the last three, but I enjoyed his set throughout.  Derek was fighting some form of sickness, which contributed a little bit to his normal raspiness (which I love).  Hopefully he’ll come by soon and be able to be more talkative, as that’s usually where things get interesting. :)

After a short 10-minute break, Jennifer Knapp hit the stage.  As mentioned previously, I was not too familiar with her music, but I did recognize one of the tunes early on from my old christian bookstore days – “Whole Again.”  I also recognized “Dive In” from her webpage.  She definitely had a powerful voice and stage presence.  I can totally see her draw… she’s a great performer and has some vocal and guitar chops.

Some of her songs were a bit too “christianeze” for my tastes.  Though, she is decidedly less CCM-y than most, and I can definitely appreciate that. :)  One funny moment (to me) was her describing how “such and such” song was written a while ago but never put on a record because it didn’t have the right mentioning of “Jesus” and wasn’t as religious, etc – but to me, it definitely seemed religious… I mean, why do christians many times think that songs aren’t religious if they don’t use “god” or Jesus’ name directly?  This song’s mentioning being “in need of mercy” (among other things) definitely had a religious bent, if you ask me.  Anyway, christians’ perceptions of christian songs gets a chuckle out of me.  That’s all.  She is enough of a cross-over lyricist where I think she’ll do fine on the Lilith Fair circuit… she’s a powerful woman musician warrior.

I enjoyed just under an hour of Jennifer’s set before heading out back home to Eugene.  I did catch a few songs with Amy Court joining her, and I’m sure Derek joined her later in the set (as he has done in the past).  All in all, I thought it was an A+ triple singer-songwriter bill.  If you have any thoughts on Jennifer’s set or if you have her setlist, please post in the comments.

This was one of the last shows featuring both Derek & Jennifer.  Derek Webb will likely be more involved in the Caedmon’s Call album wrap-up in the coming months (I’m hoping they tour with Derek).  Jennifer Knapp will be on the Lilith Fair tour in 2010 alongside many other great artists.  I’d highly (HIGHLY) recommend Derek’s latest album, Stockholm Syndrome.  Also, check out Jennifer’s album, Letting Go, when it drops on May 11th…

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Erin McKeownHundreds of Lions

all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

  1. bob clifton
    25th Aug 10 (Wed) at 9:13 pm

    it sounds like in what you wrote that you don’t like Christians in general. And for that i feel sad for you. There are many many of us with many different musical tastes. i too was at the aladdin concert. and did enjoy it mostly. i felt i had to remind you there are hypocrites and haters of every religion in the world. so maybe instead of critisizing, you might want to try getting to know some Christians and maybe find that just like every other religion, there are people in every group that don’t always practice what they preach and/or believe. there are many time i remember myself not practicing what i believe. and thank God for His mercy and forgiveness. now if only the world would see that and the fact that His mercy and forgiveness does not give us license to continue to behave foolishly, that is, sin. and contrary to what many believe, man is not the best he can be. even when you accept Jesus as your savior, you will find sin still in your life. God looks at your heart.

    • 25th Aug 10 (Wed) at 9:33 pm

      I was a Christian for upwards of 25 years. It’s full of hypocritical idiocy, and the Bible, Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit mean *absolutely nothing* to me now… OK, maybe a pittance of a memory, but nothing that guides my life or my interactions with those that I love.

      I never said I didn’t like Christians in general. I get a feeling that you didn’t read what I wrote, or perhaps it’s difficult to infer what you think my tone was? I like how Derek and Jennifer *don’t* seem to fit that mold that I grew out of. They seem like real people who seem to know the difference between what they’re taught and what seems truly right (to love one another regardless of sexual orientation, beliefs, etc).

      Thanks for your comment. I think you misunderstand me. I have no problem with Christians. I just think they’re misguided and when they try to dig in and legislate their beliefs on others, it’s a bit annoying, but hopefully ill-fated. I’m thankful that Derek Webb et al *don’t* seem to be in that camp.


      PS- God doesn’t look in my heart. God doesn’t exist. Might as well exchange “god” with “thor” or “zarthustra” and you’ll hold the same view. It’s all make believe.

  2. 17th Sep 10 (Fri) at 11:40 am

    Hey Dan, thought this was so interesting – (the music part of the post since I’ve enjoyed Caedmon’s Call in the past) – but even more so the reasons behind your leaving the faith. Hearing people’s reasoning is always really interesting to me.

    I’m sad that you’ve encountered so many hypocrites. I can definitely see how that would be a turn-off. My hope is that you cross paths with more people who are genuinely living out the truth of Christ. There really are a lot of us out there. =)

  3. chris
    20th Jan 12 (Fri) at 10:16 am


  1. 28th Apr 10 (Wed) at 8:45 am
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