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Mountain Man Derri in full concentration mode

Show Review: The Choir at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, CA on 4/30

The Choir released Wide-Eyed Wonder, their fifth studio album, in 1989. This year, they’re touring and playing that album in full, once again with bassist Robin Spurs. This album sometimes gets overlooked by fans and critics alike because it fell between Chase the Kangaroo, the group’s first truly stellar full-length, and Circle Slide, which is nearly unanimously considered to be the act’s recorded high point. With its powerful performance of these songs tonight, though, the band served notice Wide-Eyed Wonder has, perhaps, been cruelly ignored far too long.

After opening with “Midnight Sun,” from The Choir’s 2010 Burning Like the Midnight Sun album, these now-veteran musicians tore into “Someone to Hold on To,” a song extolling mankind’s desperate need for a savior, and never looked back. What makes these songs – and all the best Choir songs, for that matter – so memorable is how so many times they’re obviously autobiographical. Whether it’s the spooky “Robin Had a Dream,” the kooky “Car, Etc.,” or the downright somber “To Bid Farewell,” this is one group that’s always offered wide open windows into the inner workings of their souls. They can express sacrificial love one moment, as with “To Cover You,” and then bask in the wonder of small children, which is beautifully expressed through “When She Sees Me” where Derri marvels at how fast a baby’s heart beats the moment she spots daddy in the room.

Additionally, Choir songs always speak from a perspective of humble humanity. They’re never the preacher; instead, they’re just similar members of the choir. Fans immediately connect to The Choir because they see so much of themselves in these songs.

The group, which got its start in Southern California before relocating to Nashville, ended by singing a few favorites from Circle Slide, including its title track and “A Sentimental Song.” Both Derri Daugherty and Steve Hindalong also took solo turns, which included a wonderful new song Daugherty penned about his adventurous father before all was said and done.

Most bands would give anything to have an album like Wide-Eyed Wonder to their credit. The Choir is so consistently good, though, this release is but one among many fine full-lengths. Back when The Choir initially released the album, they were young and relatively inexperienced musicians. Now, however, they play these songs with observable confidence. And maybe, just maybe, these songs sounded even better in 2017 than they did in 1989. And we watched, once again, with wide-eyed wonder.

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