|Dean Hopper, TaRanda Greene, Connie Hopper, Claude Hopper|
It's always interesting when group members are absent to see how things will go, especially with Kim being featured a lot. TaRanda did an amazing job filling in for Kim, and the Hoppers didn't miss a beat during the concert.
It was funny to hear the whispers in the audience as the Hoppers took the stage. People knew it didn't look like Kim. Others just thought maybe she had gone darker with her hair. There was quite a debate going on as to who it was. Then some finally realized it was TaRanda on stage, and not Kim.
The Hoppers started the night with "Stepping on the Clouds" and then "I Will Serve Thee." They sang one more, "Yahweh," always a favorite before Claude introduced TaRanda as filling in for Kim, since she was sick. And some people from the crowd finally could relax knowing who the brunette was on stage.
Next, they sang "I'll Take You Home," which is probably my favorite song from their latest album, Count Me In. They sang another one from album next, "Might Is the Word."
Josh Simpson had a piano solo, sorry I didn't get the name of it, but it was really good! His name is not one that gets recognized a lot as far as southern gospel piano players go, but he is definitely a standout musician. Claude made introductions next of the entire group.
They slowed things down with "I'll Worship Only at the Feet of Jesus." Connie and Dean really shine on this song to me. Dean impresses me more and more as a lead singer each time I see the Hoppers live. They did an a capella reprise of the chorus that TaRanda started that was beautiful!
TaRanda then sang Kim's song "He Didn't Just Carry the Cross." It got the first standing ovation of the night, but it was definitely not the last.
watch the video here). She did an incredible job with it!!! You can hear in the video the crowd's reaction to it, we all loved it!! Mike also hit some incredible bass notes!!!
The next song was the Hopper favorite, "Yes, I Am." After that TaRanda shared her testimony. She talked about how God delivered her from depression after Tony's death. She also told some cute stories about her girls. I loved how open and honest she was about her struggles and how when she turned her focus back to God that He delivered her from the depression. I can confidently say that God is using her story and her willingness to share her about her struggles to reach other people and for His glory. She then sang, "I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked." Again, the audience was on its feet! If you have never seen her sing this, stop reading and go to YouTube right now and look it up! You won't regret it. TaRanda not only has powerful vocals, but she has such a way with communicating the lyrics of a song. And I loved her performance of this song!
The Hoppers sang "Jerusalem" next. They show clips of previously recorded performances of them singing "Jerusalem" as they sang. It was so interesting to see how the mannerisms of Kim on the screen and TaRanda live matched up. They closed the first half with "Something's Happening," which again earned a standing ovation. And it's another personal favorite of mine!
Claude said right before the break that the best was yet to come. The man beside me commented that he didn't know how it was going to get any better. I have to say the Hoppers outdid themselves in the first half, so we were all looking forward to more of the same in the second half.
It was really funny to hear people talking during intermission. There's no doubt that a Hoppers concert is not the same when one of them is missing. Kim was sorely missed, but people all around me were commenting on how similar Kim and TaRanda are vocally and in their performances. People were blown away by it, especially since they are not blood relation.
They started the second half with "Count Me In." Then Dean bragged on TaRanda being able to step in and fill in for Kim. He said that she had also been filling in for Connie some recently, but they hadn't really rehearsed much with the lineup as it was with TaRanda singing soprano. He was thankful she had been able to jump in and knew both Connie and Kim's parts.
Claude then started telling a story, and they thought he was setting up "If I Can Help Somebody," so Mike started playing the track. Claude stopped him and said he wasn't done, and that he wanted to sing another one. I love the good-natured banter back and forth between the family members during these moments. This is one thing about seeing group live that I enjoy, just seeing them being real and joking with each other on stage. Claude then sang a song called "Home" that I had never heard him sing before.
Dean then started setting up "That's Him" and looked at TaRanda and said that he knew she knew this song. He talked about his mom's battle with cancer and then said that he and Kim's youngest daughter had been born nine and a half months premature. With that, the audience started laughing and they called him out on saying months instead of weeks. Haha! Connie started singing the song. I wasn't as familiar with this song, but quickly fell in love with the lyrics. And then they sang the always fan favorite, "Shoutin' Time." Again they had the audience up clapping along.
Next, they played their concept video of "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" and then showed a video of the Roman Road taking us through the plan of salvation. They closed with "Grace Will Always Be Greater Than Sin."
It was such a great night. One thing I love about seeing the Hoppers live is that you never leave their concerts disappointed. Every time I've seen them, they sing for at least two hours, most of the time closer to three. And they give it their all for every minute.
Kim was definitely missed. She is such an amazing vocalist that she's one of the reasons I look forward to seeing the Hoppers live. I was also sad that I missed getting to hear her and TaRanda together, but TaRanda did great filling in. It's so good to see and hear TaRanda singing on stage again. I loved how you can tell what a close family they are when they are on stage together. They laughed and kidded with TaRanda just as they would have with Kim. TaRanda and Kim are very similar as vocalists and that was even more evident to me after the concert. Many times with a group member gone, it's evident that something is missing and the concert doesn't go as smoothly. But with TaRanda being like part of the family, it wasn't the case on Saturday night. The Hoppers didn't miss a beat and made it a memorable evening for all who were there!