Upper Room: Oden Fong

On Saturday, October 20th, The Upper Room presented Oden Fong in concert.

The concert kicked off at 7:30 pm when founder and host, Ron Strand, introduced singer Felson Palad. Felson opened the concert with a four song set that included worship songs and popular hits like “Take On Me” by A-ha and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel. Felson’s pure tone and incredibly high range kept the audience spellbound. The raucous applause at the end of his set was an indication of the overwhelming satisfaction the audience derived from Felson’s performance.

Felson Palad opening for Oden Fong.

After the pre-concert had concluded, Ron challenged the audience with Sitcom Trivia. Individuals who answered a question correctly won an Upper Room T-shirt. Those who blurted out the answer without raising their hand were taken out to the parking lot and flogged (just kidding).

For the main event, Ron welcomed Oden Fong, formerly of the 70s band Mustard Seed Faith, to the stage. Oden set the tone for concert by starting out with a worship set. He invited the audience to sing along on: “Your Love Never Fails,” “Holy Spirit,” “Sweet Honey in the Rock,” “O Magnify the Lord (Hosanna)” and “Let My Words Be Few.”

The songs in this diverse worship experience spanned several decades and different musical styles. During the singing of “O Magnify the Lord,” I was filled with nostalgia and was pleasantly surprised at how many people knew the syncopated handclap on the chorus.

For the next set, Oden played some songs from his solo projects. Oden’s “silky golden voice” was accompanied by his skilled and expressive guitar work. On several occasions, Oden used a piece of technology that produced perfect harmony above his voice, which created a unique tonal quality.

Oden sang the poetic “White Eagle” and followed it up with the similarly themed “Ready to Fly.” After a song about the Great Flood, Oden performed two more tunes in the same vein, “Natural Man” and “Rich Man, Poor Man,” a story song based on the parable found in Luke 16:19-31. “She Begins to Sing,” was a gentle, lyrical melody with lullaby qualities.

Oden took a break from singing and shared his heart with the audience. He admitted that, as much as he enjoys performing, he’d rather be teaching the Word. Oden quoted John 3:30, a verse that sums up his outlook on ministry: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It was inspiring, and refreshing, to see a performer displaying such humility.

Oden performed the ballad “Again and Again,” which spoke of growing in God’s love. Another pair of themed songs closed out the concert: “Sidney the Pirate” and the 1975 classic, “Sail on Sailor.”

Oden’s beautiful guitar playing and stirring voice were the mainstays of his concert. Memorable songs, excellent musicianship and a handful of free T-shirts made this yet another unforgettable evening at The Upper Room.

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