CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Third Day returned to the capital city Thursday night for their Miracle Tour at the Municipal Auditorium. Opening for the band were singer-songwriters Josh Wilson and Colton Dixon. Wilson took the stage first with a kind of one-man-band act. He played the acoustic guitar and one of those handheld shakers but the coolest part was his foot pedal activated mixer. It allowed him to play little snippets of rhythm lines, instantly record it and then play it on repeat as he played the melody and sang over top. You frequently hear artists play with prerecorded tracks but it is rare you get to see the artist lay down the track in front of the audience while telling cute little anecdotes.Wilson played several songs familiar to KLOVE listeners, like "I Refuse" and "Before the Morning," but by far the biggest crowd pleaser of his six-song set was his rendition of "Country Roads," the unofficial West Virginia state song.
Wilson was followed on stage by Colton Dixon, an obvious favorite of the tweens in the audience. In fact, it was quite obvious from the swooning and screaming that he was the person a large portion of the audience had come to see. You know how they say, "When it is too loud you are too old?" I may be too old.This definitely was not a band I had expected to see opening for Third Day. Dixon and company were not bad, they were just extremely loud and mostly unintelligible with a driving bass line that made me at times question if I might need to locate the public defibrillator. Really though, I applaud Third Day for reaching a larger audience with a diverse offering and I applaud Dixon's hair product, as his 'do gave me Flock of Seagulls flashbacks. After a brief intermission and a pitch for World Vision Children's Fund, Third Day came out to a wild audience. After 20 years together, those guys never disappoint a crowd. Their playing is tight and more technically accurate than ever before, and they only get better every time I see them.Lead singer Mac Powell, although complaining of allergies, was in awesome voice. He and his fellow band mates gave the crowd everything they have come to expect from a Third Day show.Powerful, moving ballads and driving bluesy rock anthems filled the Municipal Auditorium for more than an hour and a half. Third Day played classic favorites like "Cry Out to Jesus" and "Show Me Your Glory" and they played a lot of really fantastic new songs, like the title track off the album "Miracle," also the name of the tour, and the new single, "Love is Like a River."I think the highlight of Third Day's concert this year was definitely the acoustic set, featuring a remake of Cat Steven's "Morning Has Broken." What can I even say about this?Powell's deep, gritty, resonating voice should be an affront to the gentle lilting ballad, but instead it was a beautiful juxtaposition of the original. It left tears in my eyes. It was lovely. Pianist Scotty Wilbanks and Mark David Lee on guitar rounded out the acoustic trio for a flawless musical experience.Overall, as always, it was a great and diverse show with a large and diverse crowd -- another fantastic performance from Third Day.