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Worship Live - Click to view!In the long line of chart-topping artists that joined the pop worship train, Salvador came aboard the caboose with their latest album Worship Live. Before you groan, "Not another worship album," hear me out. This is not your typical, youth camp, acoustic guitar, regurgitation of worn-out songs. Salvador may be on the tail end of the trend, but with their energized Latin rhythms and heartfelt harmonies, they easily raise the bar.

The lucky town of Albuquerque, N.M., hosted Salvador's live performance at Calvary Church where the 8-man band displayed a fusion of styles including pop, rock, Latin, and jazz. Within a few frenzied notes of their first song of the night, "David Danced," oh, how I wished I lived in New Mexico.

Worship Live brings what other artists have lacked in recent attempts at worship albums. Salvador presents the genre in a new light of being both meaningful and fun. It can move your feet and your spirit.

Salvador set out to give their audience more than just the run-of-the-mill, live rehashing of old material. Like a good band should, they pepper every song with their signature sound, making you feel as though you're hearing such staple worship songs as "We Fall Down" and "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever" for the first time.

In Worship Live, Salvador fans will be satisfied to see that same fire and passion that brought the group into the forefront of the Christian music scene in 2000 with their self-titled release. That reckless musical abandon is even more exhilarating in this live setting.

The Latin-fused power songs like "Con Poder" and "Moñtana" that made Salvador a great band in and out of the studio are showcased well on Worship Live. Influences of Tito Puente can be felt in the big band sound of Eliot Torres' furious percussion and the powerful horns of Pablo Gabaldon and Billy Greigo. I dare not be so bold as to compare front man and guitarist Nic Gonzales to the legendary Carlos Santana, but let's just say he's got some fancy fingering.

Gonzales also has crowd charisma that can only be likened to that of Kirk Franklin's. He jokes and entices the audience while drawing them into the songs with a lot of crowd participation. He puts his heart for worship on his sleeve in between the songs, sharing his parents' sage advice: "Don't honor and glorify God first… Honor and glorify God only."

The heart of the performance lies where Gonzales and the boys bring it down into slower, more traditional worship. Through songs like "I Love you Lord" and "As the Deer," you grasp the essence that worshiping God is truly the reason they are there. Although Gonzales's voice is strong, there is a humbleness that comes across through the music.

While Into Motion's "Alegría" would have made a nice addition to the other up-tempo praise songs such as "Lord I Come before You" and "God People," Salvador wanted to prove that they could move you spiritually with subtle melodies while they let the words of "Here I Am to Worship" settle in. Mission accomplished.

It's hard to say that the Christian market is over-saturated with worship CDs without sounding callous. I can say that, as a disc jockey for Christian radio, I've often told my co-workers, without shame, that if I hear one more version of "Open the Eyes of My Heart," I'm going to the roof of the station, and I'm taking hostages.

Salvador has not only changed my mind, they've changed my viewpoint of how worship should be done. It should ignite the heart, inspire the mind, and above all, praise God. In the fury of the pulsating rhythms, Salvador does not lose the true focus of their worship. Before launching into Kirk Franklin's "My Desire," Gonzales put it best: "My desire is that you see a little bit of Jesus in us tonight. And our desire is to be like Him."
- Jennifer Jones
January 2004
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