HILLSONG UNITED Live In Miami CD/DVD Album Review

 

The uber-successful worship leader rock stars also known as Hillsong United is back with their first live album in four years, named ‘Live In Miami’. The album captures 21 tracks recorded during the band’s sold out worship night at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida back in August 2011.
The band’s widely successful ‘Aftermath US Tour’, in support of their latest studio album ‘Aftermath’, saw sold out worship nights in venues across the country – from New York to Los Angeles (where the band became the first Christian band to sell out Staples Center) and back east to Miami where the new CD and DVD were recorded live.

The main draw of this album has to be the live recordings of the songs we haven’t heard before on any live album. For me ‘Aftermath‘ was, and still is, a stunning piece of work from the band, and I have to admit that the songs on that album are some of my favorites from the Hillsong stables ever. That whole album had a different vibe and style to what you might count as the Hillsong United style.

Moving onto the review of this album and the velocity of passionate loud worship kicks off in the way you would expect from any Hillsong album. Starting with the stunning ‘Go’ the album opens with big guitars and big drums and a packed worshipping crowd singing along to every word, “We’re giving it all away, We’re giving it all to go your way”. The big guitars continue into the song Break Free, if you weren’t already singing along you will be by the chorus of this one, “Won’t you break free, won’t you break free, get up and dance”.

Search My Heart moves into one of the most played Christian songs ever, Mighty To Save. These are two great songs to have next to each other, beautiful pieces of music used to flow the album together. I know the question might have passed your lips when looking at the track listing of this album. Does the world need another version of Mighty To Save, and the answer is probably no, yet this version of the songs fits perfectly into the 21 track album and is still an amazing worship song that is great to sing along to: “He rose and conquered the grave”. Amen. Would I buy this album for the so called classic ‘Hillsong’ songs? No. But there is enough new live material on here, more than enough in fact, to get your teeth into that the older songs are actually a great addition.

One of my favorite moments on the whole of the album comes right in the middle, it is wonderful to hear the dance bleeps and beats of Freedom Is Here, which is one of those songs that really hit the spot. This song then flows into Shout Unto God then into the stunning and beautiful Like An Avalanche. For my review of the the original album of Aftermath I said of this particular song, “It’s an outpouring cry to God with the chorus of ‘And I find myself here on my knees again, caught up in grace like an avalanche, nothing compares to this love, love, burning in my heart’, wonderful musicianship on this song, a strong powerful track.” Not much has changed apart from this live version is 100 times better!

Of course you personally will have you favorite songs on this album. Maybe it is the brilliant Hosanna with its well known opening guitar riff or the very distinctive guitar sounds of Rhythm Of Grace. This album has them all. If you want to hear the new live version of songs from the last few Hillsong United albums then this is one album to look out for. If you are looking for the older classic songs that have been played around the church for the last ten years like Your Name High and From The Inside Out then this album is also for you. This album is a must have.

For me, you have to look at it not as ‘another’ Hillsong album, but as a recorded version of that amazing time of worship in Miami. The album flows well with great heartfelt worship songs sung with passion by Hillsong United. But overall the best bits for me are hearing the loud drums, big guitars and the thousands of worshippers singing together the name of Jesus, and that is always a special thing.

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