By Justin RouillonThursday 18 Feb 2021
Main Image: UNITED vocalist JD live in concert (Hillsong). Listen: JD chats with Tim Bain about the band’s latest live offering ‘The People Tour: Live From Madison Square Garden’.
I’d almost forgotten about the good old live album.
Thank goodness that things are returning to normal in Australia with gigs, festivals, musicals and theatre all beginning to make a comeback. But spare a thought for our friends in the US, with the pandemic still raging and COVID-19 having taken a battering ram to the arts and live entertainment.
It’s these unprecedented times that sees Hillsong UNITED release their live concert experience as both an album and concert film, streaming now on Amazon Prime. Recorded live in New York in 2019, ‘The People Tour: Live From Madison Square Garden’ is the groups 15th live album, and includes twenty three songs from 2019’s ‘People’ and earlier releases.
Jonathon Douglass, or JD as he’s usually known by, has been with UNITED since their start in the late 90’s and told 96five’s Tim Bain that the shows at Madison Square Garden was a highlight of their 2019 US tour.
“The venue and the city are quite unique – for anyone who’s been to New York you just have to walk down the street and it feels like such a global city.”
“Just to be in Madison Square Garden – it’s such an iconic venue in an iconic city so it was definitely one of those stand out nights for us.”
JD said that he hoped that UNITED’s music has helped fans find some hope, during what has been for many people such a terrible time in their lives.
“These songs are able to connect and help people, the truth is that that’s at the heart of why we do what we do. We write songs from an authentic, honest place about where we are in our relationship with God, about God, but they’re written for people to be able to sing. Whatever season or situation people may find themselves in, the heart of these songs are to help people, to remind them of the truth of God and the hope we have, and to bring courage and encouragement. There’s never been a more important time for that.”
The Sydney band have enjoyed the kind of success in the US that most groups can only dream of, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the brakes on playing live in North America for the foreseeable future. Over the past few years UNITED have racked up number ones on the Billboard charts, sold albums in platinum status numbers and penned songs that have become staples on US Christian radio. Despite that success the band have kept their feet on the ground as proud Australian representatives.
“I’ll find myself saying g’day everyone, and it would be met by a response of laughter of joy from the crowd; I realised that not everyone around the world greets each other with g’day! You can take the boy out of Australia, but you can’t take the Aussie out of the boy I guess.”
UNITED’s latest live offering ‘The People Tour: Live from Madison Square Garden is out now on Hillsong Music and available to buy and stream at the usual outlets. The concert film of the same name is free to view for Amazon Prime members.