The Oak Ridge Boys, in their 28th year of Christmas Celebration Tours, made a stop at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan tonight. The full-production show with its beautiful visuals also included a visit from Santa Claus and songs from the groups seven bestselling Christmas CDs. But not before starting the show by getting everyone on their feet with their beloved “old hits!”
The Boys entered the stage bellowing “Everyday” to a packed house, full of excited fans. They kept the audience eager for more singing “American Made”, “Y’all Come Back Saloon” and “Thank God for Kids”. Just when you thought they were done with the favorites, they made sure no one left unsatisfied. Their fifth song and final song of the traditional part of the performance – after an audible sigh of relief that we were going to hear it – they started right in with “Elvira”! The room was instantly filled with hundreds of dancing fans! You could hear cheers after each and every time Richard did his signature “oom poppa mow mow”.
Instantaneously the show took a turn from traditional to Christmas-themed. Some very quick and quite unnoticeable set changes happened and snow began to flurry through the air. Meanwhile, The Boys are keeping their eager fans entertained with “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”, “Jingle Bells”, “White Christmas”, “Blue Christmas” and “Christmas Cookies”.
All of a sudden a billow of smoke takes over stage left as The Boys are singing “Santa Claus Is Real”. To everyone’s delight Santa Claus appears! After some dancing around and waves to the crowd, Santa takes a seat in a big red chair in the middle of the stage. The Boys all gather around Santa and sing “Sweet Santa Claus” and throw in a tease here and there. Santa then comes off the stage and into the audience to give hugs, high-fives and handshakes, all while The Boys sang “Here Comes Santa Claus”.
Just as quickly as he appeared, Santa vanished and the stage was rearranged in the blink of an eye. While singing “It’s Christmas Time Once Again” The Boys assemble themselves in front of a fireplace, sitting on Cracker Barrel rocking chairs, to further entertain and delight us all with the “Rocking Chair” segment of the show. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that The Boys soon would share! Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban each took a turn to share stories and sing songs. They announced that they have a new album created that will be released in March 2018. They performed one track from the album – “A Brand New Star in Heaven Tonight”. They also delighted us with “Silent Night”, “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” and “That’s Christmas to Me” during this time.
Just when you thought you couldn’t get any more, The Boys captivated us with a short story on the real reason for Christmas and sang beautiful renditions of “Jesus is Coming Soon”, “Mary Did You Know” and “Jesus Is Born Today”. During these last few songs I wasn’t sure if I was worshipping in church or attending/photographing a concert; it was absolutely breathtaking.
As soon as I could catch my breath, I look up to see snow falling from the skies once again as The Boys conclude the fantastic evening with an upbeat “Joy to the World” from their most recent Christmas album, Celebrate Christmas. The Boys gathered together again, in worshipping fashion – praised God with their hands, placed them humbly over their hearts and took their final bows of the night.
For many, The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Celebration Tour has become an annual family tradition. I can see why anyone would trek through any kind of December weather that may to make sure that they make it to this concert year after year. The Christmas Celebration far exceeded any expectations that I had; I will be back every year as long as The Boys bless us all with their amazing music!
MUST – SEE!
The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Special
Senior Photojournalist: Mary Elliott