Chris Tomlin gave a Baton Rouge crowd Tuesday night what it was there for: almost two hours to sing along with songs he has written and recorded over the past 15 years.
He started with newer pieces “White Flag” and “Waterfall.”
In between songs during his concert at the River Center, he offered short glimpses into his humor.
His greeting to the crowd started, “Hello, Baton Rouge, home of the craziest people on Earth. I have seen your LSU football games.”
Ever the praise and worship leader, Tomlin reminded people, “If you know anything about our music ... we’re not really here to sing at you, you’re not singing to us ... we’re singing to a living God. ... We’re here to worship him, to sing praise to him.”
He then encouraged the crowd to shout Psalm 100 with him before he started into his musical rendition of it from the “Love Ran Red” album, which is the name of the tour.
Probably his best-known piece, “How Great is Our God,” sung by churches around the world, came early in the night, just five songs in.
The audience jumped in quickly and loudly, and Tomlin let them run with it, offering only lyric prompts at points. He finished the piece with the hymn “How Great Thou Art,” again with the crowd singing along.
To switch things up, Tomlin moved to the front of a long stage outcropping. He said he was going to play some older pieces and was joined by his longtime guitarist Daniel Carson. Tomlin joked that some people would say, “ ‘I’m so glad you played that song,’ while others would say, ‘I wasn’t born.’ ”
The duo then played acoustic versions of “Indescribable,” “Holy is the Lord” and “I Will Rise,” again with the audience singing along.
Before the show, a video from Tomlin encouraged people to tweet questions to him. At the midpoint, he explained this came from a suggestion from his wife, who told him he should let people get to know him better at shows.
He then read a handful of the questions. Some answers were stories that he had shared before, such as how he started playing guitar at age 9 as something to do while recovering from mononucleosis.
He was asked who he wanted to switch places with for one day. Someone in the crowd shouted, “Donald Trump.”
Tomlin said he had put the question to the band members. Their answers included:
“My bass player (Matthew Melton) said Tom Brady.”
“My drummer (Travis Nunn) said Scott Kelly, the guy on the International Space Station.”
The guitar player, Carson, “said he would switch with Travis, the drummer, ’cause he wants to play drums. And on keys (Matt Gilder), said he would like to be Jason Bourne.”
Tomlin’s answer was to be the U.S. president: “You can’t mess up a lot in one day.” Air Force One played a large role in his desire to be president: “Just to go somewhere and then to go back.”
With each question, he shared the name of the person who asked it. When it came to his favorite Bible verse, he said it was asked by several people, but he chose to share the name of one woman, who was from Germany. His answer was John 18, which is the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Highlights in the last part of the show included “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),” which was written for the movie “Amazing Grace.”
Opening act Rend Collective joined Tomlin onstage several times, including for “Good Good Father,” which was released in the past few weeks. The piece was new enough that the musicians and lyrics shown on the screen were out of sync. It also appeared that Tomlin stumbled on a part. That didn’t slow the audience, who kept singing along.
In the past, Tomlin has ended concerts on a quiet, prayerful tone.
But Tomlin on Tuesday night built up the end of the show with the rousing “God’s Great Dance Floor,” encouraging people to come down to an open area to dance along.
He left the stage for a moment, came back out and introduced the band. Members of Rend Collective returned to the stage.
He again thanked Rend Collective, calling them “the best band to come out of Ireland, and that includes U2.”
The two bands then launched into the night’s last song, “10,000 Reasons,” a piece based on Psalm 103, written by Tomlin’s label mate Matt Redman.