PETRA: Concert Review

PETRA 50th Anniversary Tour

Mannheim, PA 3/21/24

by Chris Gatto

It’s hard to imagine christian rock without a band called Petra. The band was active from 1972 until their Farewell in 2005, with a musical legacy spanning decades, made up of many band members through the years.

Fortunately for fans, two bands still tour occasionally, celebrating Petra’s music. One would be Classic Petra (Revival, Revisited), fronted by early 80’s singer Greg X. Volz, and the second band still goes by the name Petra, fronted by former Head East singer John Schlitt. For the 50th anniversary tour Petra is John Schlitt on vocals, Bob Hartman (only original member) on guitar, John Lawry on keys, Greg Bailey on bass and cello, and Cristian Borneo on drums. This show was held at the Junction Center at WJTL radio headquarters in Mannheim, PA.

John Schlitt opened the show with “Whole World,” from his first album with the band- Back to the Street from 1986.Then the band played 90’s hits ”You’re in the Right Place” and “Dance,” before returning to 1988’s On Fire with “Counsel of the Holy.” “Just Reach Out” followed, and then Schlitt pondered how to play all the songs that fans might hope to hear on such an anniversary. We didn’t have to wait long for the answer as Petra launched into a rock medley featuring portions of “Sight Unseen,” “It Is Finished,” “Think Twice,” “I Am On the Rock,” “Midnight Oil,” “Minefield,” and “This Means War!,” before returning to “It Is Finished.”

John Lawry played a keyboard solo, incorporating “Jesus Loves You” from Captured In Time and Space and a keytar solo which led to a Cristian Borneo drum solo. With the whole band back on stage, Petra launched into “Creed,” from Beyond Belief, “Judas’ Kiss” from 1982’s More Power To Ya (minus the backmasking), and then went all the way back to the band’s 1974 debut album with Bob Hartman singing the bluegrass song “Lucas McGraw” and then explaining that the band used it as an icebreaker back in the early days when many in the church were convinced that rock music was of the devil.

Then the band performed a mellow medley, with Greg Bailey on cello, made up of “Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows,” “Road to Zion,” “More Power To Ya,” “No Doubt,” “Colouring Song,” and “Love.” The band then revisited their “final” album title track “Jekyll and Hyde,” played “Beyond Belief” and Bob Hartman did a guitar solo.

Then the band closed the show with a brief praise medley consisting of “Lord I Lift Your Name On High,” “Somebody’s Gonna Praise His Name,” and “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. The prevalence of modern rock worship in most church congregations today was influenced heavily by Petra’s pair of Petra Praise albums. Neither the band nor the fans were ready to call it a night yet, so Petra rocked the house one last time with “He Came, He Saw, He Conquered” from This Means War! Just like the rock fortress Petra in Jordan where the band’s name is drawn from, the band’s influence will remain intact for generations to come.

About Author