After 33 years, veteran Christian rock band Petra is calling it quits.
I saw them at their Farewell concert in Dallas this past weekend. I was even able to get front row and center, which was a real treat. But regardless, I wouldn't have missed it.
Back in the mid-80s, my first concert was a Petra concert, during their Not of this World tour. At that concert, I bought the first album I ever bought with my own money: Never Say Die.
Since then I've enjoyed at least 20 of their albums. Petra means "rock" and they've never failed to disappoint. Their sound has changed as the times have changed, but their message has never compromised. They've had no ambitions to "cross over" or water down their lyrics. To this day, every concert has ended with an alter call.
I don't believe it's every Christian band's perrogative to have alter calls or extremely bold lyrics. But I do think that what used to be the rule has now become the exception. Petra was signed to a Christian label back in the days of "pure" labels--when Christian record companies were first and foremost concerned with a band's stand...the hope for profit was secondary. Today it's different, and understandably so. Christian labels couldn't exist without being run as profitable businesses. But that's another discussion. The point is that Petra came along before we knew profitability was necessary--and they survived purely on their bold message, musical ability and grass roots efforts.
I'm sad to see Petra go, but 33 years is more than we will see from most bands today--and every one of Petra's years has been marked by quality music, a non-compromising message and the ability to rock. Farewell, old friends. We'll miss you more than you know.