Thursday, November 21, 2013

CONCERT REVIEW: The Mezzanine Band (11.17.13)

(Photos: Christopher Long)
East Coast Christian Center
Merritt Island, FL / 11.17.13

Originally, I was scheduled
to cover a show featuring a
once significant combo from
the '90s at House of Blues
in Orlando last Sunday.
However, by the afternoon,
plans had been upgraded.
And Sunday night, I found
myself in a truly magnificent
venue, reviewing a concert
performance that was
absolutely praiseworthy!

Yes, the music scene on Florida's Space Coast is alive and well. But the area's top musicians, singers and songwriters aren't necessarily all trapped in the local beer-soaked, smoke-filled "Brew & Cues." 'Free Bird,' dude! In fact, I've discovered the cream of the crop  in a rather unlikely hangout.

Located in Merritt Island, Florida, East Coast Christian Center is home to a dynamic weekly young adult service known as The Mezzanine. Meeting each Sunday at 7PM, The Mezzanine is led by Pastor David W. Gammon. Given Gammon's passion for pursuing the presence of God, I expected that the experience would be powerful.

I'd seen many of The Mezzanine Band members perform previously in other groups. Guitarists Zak Riley and Kurt Lamp, bassist Cassie Filardo and drummer Dan Cusmano are known as some of the hottest players in town, so I was psyched to check them all out in this particular collective. ECCC  boasts some flippin' elaborate  A/V production, and I knew that the band would be rockin'. So, with all of my teenage KISS concert zeal, I bum-rushed the stage and found a prime spot — in the pit.

Singer / songwriter / keyboardist Amanda Walker is The Mezzanine Praise & Worship leader. And with an ensemble cast tonight that more closely resembled a Doobie Brothers reunion, Walker certainly had her work cut out — a challenge that she met successfully, without even breaking (much of ) a sweat.

Assuming what appeared to be an onstage co-pilot role, acoustic guitarist Jeff Cochran provided powerful lead vocals on the opening number, "Hallelujah" as well as on "With Everything." Kudos, Jeff — rock solid, indeed.

It was a 75-minute onslaught packed with punch — including Amanda Saunders' lead vocal on one of my all-time favorites — "Set a Fire." Saunders' voice has such an honest and pure quality that this one was a bona fide set highlight.

Dressed in a fabulous, fashion-forward ensemble that included amazing leopard print slacks, Rhesa  Sutherland once again brought her A-game. I've never seen "girlfriend" sport less than 8" stilettos and she's always beaming. Watching Rhesa sing is like staring into the face of an angel. Her vocal performance on "I Love Your Presence" made for an ├╝ber chilling moment.

And speaking of highlights, Amanda Walker totally knocked it out of the park on "God is Abel." I once heard a music critic colleague of mine refer to Walker as "the second greatest female vocalist on earth." WORD!


For his part, keyboardist / accordion player / saxophonist, Josh Page was perhaps the band's true unsung hero of the night. Accordion? In a rock band? Uh, heck yeah! Props also are due Amy O'Brien. Her acoustic guitar work added extra zing to the performance and her lead vocals on "Our Father" were as engaging as always.

What I love and admire most about percussionist Antonio De Marzo is that he's seemingly realized and embraced the #1 fundamental theory of music — banging on trash cans in church is freaking cool!

From start to finish, The Mezzanine Band delivered a barn-burning set that wrapped up with the ever-inspirational, "We Glorify Your Name" followed by the big-finish encore, "To Our God" — The highest praise is yours, indeed.

-Christopher Long
(November 2013)

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome Review from the multi-talented Christopher Long !! Speaking as an on-fire "Child of God" and an active Christian Music WORSHIPER...this band ROCKS !! The Mezzanine is not only just for the young adults, us older folks (young at heart) are more than welcome to "shout for joy", too !!

    So...come one, come all and Join-In on the celebration of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords and King of Kings !!
    Sunday evenings @ 7pm at EastCoast Christian Center....The Mezzanine !!