Saturday 16th September 2017 saw The Walls Group, an incredibly talented quartet hailing from Houston, Texas, make their UK debut. The group’s first ever performance in London was part of this year’s UKSTOP event, put together by the charitable organisation, Joint Gospel. This took place at Trinity Baptist Church in Croydon (a location which admittedly wasn’t the easiest to get to), with a number of other gifted musicians taking the stage on the night.
I have been a fan of The Walls Group — made up of siblings Darrel, Rhea, Paco and Ahja — for a number of years and was elated after discovering that they were coming to London. Their rendition of ‘The Appeal’ by Kirk Franklin, which left me wondering how four seemingly ordinary teenagers could possess voices so effortlessly angelic, will forever remain one of my favourite gospel covers. I couldn’t wait to see them in the UK.
Before The Walls Group’s praise and worship set, there were a number of performances by artists, including Shekinah, Sarah Téibo, Becca Folkes and Guvna B. It was awesome to see so many home-grown musicians with different sounds, vibes and styles of music and they were all brilliant. Guvna B was a real standout as he was incredibly free in the way he performed and was also very open about some of his own struggles, most notably the recent loss of his father. Becca Folkes was also fantastic; this was my first time seeing her live and it was crazy to hear such a huge voice come out of her little body. For me, the most amazing part of the various performances was seeing all the artists using their God given gifts to offer up to the Lord all the praise he deserves. The importance of this was never once lost, something which I truly commend.
The show itself was quite long, starting at 6pm and drawing to a close at around quarter past 10. The Walls Group’s set didn’t start until about 9.15, although by this time the venue had really filled up which helped to create a great atmosphere. The group started off with their own rendition of Kesha’s hit ‘Timber’, switching up the lyrics to deliver a meaningful message about chains being broken. This was followed by a number of The Walls Group’s best-known songs including ‘Love on the Radio’, ‘Perfect People’, ‘Mighty You Are’, ‘Satisfied’ and ‘Big Brother’. I enjoy listening to the recorded versions of these songs, but hearing them live made me fall in love with them even more. The Walls Group’s harmonies were faultless, their voices powerful and very clear (Rhea was evidently not feeling too well on the night, but she still sounded amazing) and I heard notes that I don’t think my ears have ever been exposed to before. The set was also full of spontaneous moments, which was something I loved. The house band did a good job at following Darrel’s direction with this, helping to maintain the flow of the overall performance.
The Walls ended with their newest track, ‘My Life’, a single which has really grown on me over the last few weeks. It sounded insanely good live and got me pumped for the quartet’s next album, which they announced will be released this November.
After demands from the audience for one final song, the group returned to the stage to perform ‘Good Good Father’ by Housefires, a song which has also been covered by Chris Tomlin. This was a great way to end the night, with the focus being redirected to God.
The Walls Group’s debut London performance was truly incredible and it is evident that these siblings are going places. Aside from their beautiful voices, slick runs, ridiculous harmonies and great stage presence, one thing that stuck out to me was the way in which they glorified God with a real passion and authenticity, something which I believe encouraged others to do the same.
Young people in the present day are not always viewed in a particularly positive light, yet The Walls Group, alongside the other acts who performed at UKSTOP 2017, are actively challenging that narrative, inspiring a new generation of Christ worshippers. My prayer is that this marks the beginning of something truly spectacular, where young people will wholeheartedly worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth.