The Blind Boys of Alabama got the crowd standing, shouting and clapping as Friday's infectious performance swept through the sold-out Sauder Concert Hall at Goshen College.
It was gospel music that was also blues, soul and rock 'n' roll, layering deep, rich voices over a rollicking rhythm section and sharp guitars.
"We didn't come all the way up from Alabama to Indiana looking for Jesus; we brought him with us," said founding member Clarence Fountain between songs.
Since he's been singing with the group from its 1939 beginning, you'd forgive him if he sat the whole show. But during the bluesy "Spirit in the Sky" -- from the group's new album, "Atom Bomb" -- he screamed himself out of his seat with joy.
Fellow founder Jimmy Carter did him one better; the small, slender man stole the show near the end.
First, he belted a powerful lead vocal that sounded like a man half his age and twice his size. Then he jumped up and down with utter joy, exclaiming with preacher cadence, "I feel good! I feel good! I feel good!" Then, he left the stage and walked around the audience, singing to them.
When he asked, "Do you feel good?" -- forget objectivity -- I shouted, "Yeah!" with everybody else.
Relative newcomer (and relative youngster) Bishop Billy Bowers also wowed the crowd, showing a tremendous range that's been compared to deceased Blind Boys founder George Scott.
He had the strongest voice of the night, easily gunning rapid-fire gospel singing as well as sweet, slow soul.
He sent shudders down the spine, singing the last verse of "Amazing Grace," set to the music of "House of the Rising Sun" (one of the group's many examples of reworking old gospel tunes or reworking secular songs).
The show could have been a challenge for the concert hall, which has generally hosted classical and folk acts since opening several years ago.
But instead, it showed why it's a sanctuary of sound, each instrument and voice sounding crisp despite the strength of each.
Early in the show, lead vocals got slightly lost in the mix, but that was fixed in the time for Fountain to croon Curtis Mayfield's classic, "People Get Ready."
By the end, you couldn't not hear each voice ringing in your head.
Contact Thomas V. Bona at firstname.lastname@example.org