Mercy Me concert attracts hundreds

November 03, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - Christian music fans packed the sanctuary of Bethel Assembly Life House Church Sunday night, squeezing chairs into the aisle and standing along the walls for a chance to see the Grammy-nominated group Mercy Me perform live.

The venue, one of the largest church-based performance spaces in Hagerstown, proved too small for the band's local fan base, and promoter Vertical Concerts ended up having to refund dozens of tickets to fans who preferred not to stand, volunteer Natalie Tardosky said. The company sold about 1,000 tickets based on a capacity of 1,100, but it turned out the sanctuary had fewer seats than that, Tardosky said.

Fans from throughout the region cited the group's Christian message and rock sound as reasons for its popularity.

"When you become a Christian, you look for Christian music, and you don't like to listen to the same old hymns, which are beautiful, but you like to listen to music that has some pep and energy to it," said Tada Ware, 52, of Cumberland, Md.


"Their music is spiritually sound, biblical, uplifting, great for kids," said Janet Sivo, 44, of Ellicott City, Md., who said she liked that the group uses scripture in its lyrics so fans can study the verses and gain deeper insight into the song's meaning.

Her friend Anita Busam, 48, of Ellicott City, said the concert was worth the trip to Hagerstown, but she was surprised the concert was held in such a small venue. Busam said she has seen Mercy Me play in arena-sized venues.

Many fans said Mercy Me caught their attention with their 2001 hit "I Can Only Imagine," which topped Christian music charts and worked its way into the pop music rotation, too.

"I think everyone likes that song," said Jason Wratchford, 30, of Martinsburg, W.Va. "It's all about what the Bible teaches."

Ginny Culver, 45, of Hagerstown, said she felt great about bringing her three children to see the group Sunday because she knew the group had a positive message.

"They really love God," Culver said. "They love Jesus."

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