downhere at Portico Community Church

My wife and I headed down to Mississauga on Saturday to see the band downhere perform at the Portico Community Church. It was debatable for some time about going. One of the few significant snowfalls we have had this year decided to let loose on Saturday January 28, the day of the concert. We put the SUV into four-wheel drive and drove out of the heavy snow entirely within 30 minutes.

downhere had previously agreed to a fifteen minute interview that will be airing on The Antidote. It was great to have some direct conversation with the band members. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for himself), Jason Germain was at home with his wife, expecting the imminent arrival of their new child. A fellow (can’t recall his name) filled in for Jason on the keyboard and provided some vocals during the concert. downhere is a dynamic band and has two superb lead vocalists with Marc Martel and Jason Germain normally alternating taking the lead vocalist role. Glenn Lavender handles bass for the band and also took out his trumpet later on in the show. Not to be forgotten is downhere’s long standing drummer, Jeremy Thiessen (and no, Jeremy is not related to fellow Canadian and Relient K vocalist, Matt Theissen).

I’ve spoken with a number of people in the Christian music industry about this band and they all rave about downhere’s obvious talents. Style-wise they bear a similarity to Casting Crowns and MercyMe, but that’s where it ends. As a well-known music industry individual said “there’s no comparison”. Lyrically, vocally, and musically this band stands ahead of its peers.

Marc Martel has garnered a lot of attention in the media over the past few months and has become a youtube sensation with his performance of Queen’s “Somebody to Love”. Last time I checked it was at 5.7 million views. Marc will be taking the role of Freddie Mercury on stage for the Queen Extravaganza tour this summer. A recurring comment on YouTube is that Marc is Freddie Mercury. The similarity in vocal styles between Martel and Mercury is astonishing.

The evening was entitled “Journey to Jamaa” and was sponsored by World Vision. downhere took the stage to provide a few choruses that the audience participated in. Next up was the short film “Jamaa”. The film is inspired by the real life story of Margaret and Derick, two orphaned children from Uganda who make the journey from Kampala to Kasangombe in search of their aunt after the death of their mother to AIDS. Produced and filmed by Michael Landon Jr. and Brian Bird, the story illustrates the positive effect of Christ’s love and how child sponsorship can enable children living in dire circumstances to succeed. An intermission allowed the audience time to view information packages for children who are waiting for sponsorship.

The Juno Award-winning Christian rock band returned to the stage for a second time and dialed things up with a number of songs from their new release, On the Altar of Love and few tracks from their previous releases. The crowd vocally participated during each of the songs.

It may have been a surprise for some to hear downhere include a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” during their encore, but considering the recent media attention on Marc Martel, it was understandable. What I want to know is if downhere was to open for the Queen cover band on The Queen Extravaganza tour, would Marc get double pay?

Seriously, if you never seen downhere, do so. This is an incredibly talent band musically, lyrically and vocally. They are not to be missed in concert.

Set List:

  • For The Heartbreak
  • The More
  • My Last Amen
  • Living a Dream
  • On the Altar of Love
  • Let Me Rediscover You
  • How Many Kings
  • Bleed For This Love

Encore:

  • Somebody to Love – Queen cover
  • Mighty To Save – cover of Hillsong

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