Hillsong United Unites the Big Dome
It was an evening of music and worship down at the Smart Araneta Coliseum as the world-renowned Christian band, Hillsong United, took over the stage for their “Welcome Zion Tour”. Their show ran for 2 nights on June 11 and 13 and for each one, the Big Dome was completely booked as thousands filled the seats from the general admission to the patron area.
The show also attracted diverse sets of people of all ages. A good number was composed of groups of teenagers, college students and even professionals. There were also those who came as families, as couples and as friends. Different people from different churches came together to celebrate one thing: God.
The backdrop of the stage was a glowing mountain inspired by the biblical figure “Zion” which also happens to be the title of the band’s latest album. The concert, which started at around 8:00pm, lasted for almost 2 hours and a half. That, alone, is quite a treat, considering that very few major concerts last that long.
Hillsong United is composed of “worship leaders” Joel Houston, Jad Gillies, JD, Matt Crocker and Taya Smith – a lively and talented bunch of people who are all compelling speakers and proficient musicians. In between songs, they would speak about how their faith healed them and how they encourage everyone to follow the same path. The crowd was very receptive to their words, cheering and raising their hands in acceptance.
The band played a good mix of their widely known hits such as “Hosanna”, “Scandal of Grace”, “Freedom Is Here”, “All I Need Is You”, “Oceans” and “With Everything”. The lyrics were projected on the screens hanging on the left and right side of the venue, an element unique to the concert. It did a fine job at encouraging the crowd to sing along.
From the point of view of someone who isn’t very familiar with the idea of “worship”, I must say that a lot of things in the concert felt new to me. At first, it was very similar to being in a usual concert. As I stood somewhere in the middle of thousands at the patron area, I felt exactly as I did whenever I attended a pop/rock concert – thrilled and waiting to be entertained. However, I think I got a bit more than that during the concert. It wasn’t just about entertainment – it was about the experience of worship. While I’ve yet to fully immerse myself in the concept until now, getting to finally see it for myself was worth it.
The truth is a lot of Hillsong United’s songs sound as much as the pop-rock songs that catch you humming before you know it. Indeed, it’s very easy to like their songs at first listen. Moreover, due the lyrics being flashed left and right, it was inescapable to sing or hum along to them unconsciously. To begin with, the band is comprised of extremely gifted musicians. From their powerful vocals to the way they played their instruments, it was obvious how much effort they have put in writing their songs and performing live.
What ultimately made the concert different, however, was the crowd’s overpowering reception. It was astonishing how thousands of people all over the Coliseum were focused on singing their hearts out to each song. It was the most united chorus I’ve heard in any concert ever. Some even closed their eyes as if in deep prayer while some raised their arms as a symbol of reverence. They were also receptive to the worship leaders’ motivational speeches and call to prayer.
As Hillsong United rounded up a full-house at the Big Dome for their 2 shows in Manila, they managed to bring together thousands of people from all walks of life to celebrate music and God which is a feat by itself.
Written by Sandra Mae Laureano
Photos by Sandra Mae Laureano
Presented by Becca Music