One of the biggest Christian rock shows in recent memory will take place at Abravanel Hall on Thursday, May 3.Third Day, one of the most popular Christian bands in the world, is the headliner; and the opening act is Catholic singer-songwriter Matt Maher.While the music they perform seeks to comfort and inspire listeners, inclusiveness is a key component for both acts."People ask me why I don't write songs about Mary," said Maher, whose first two concerts were festivals that included Spinal Tap, Bryan Adams and Extreme. He said he strives to not write literally, but crafts songs that appeal to all Christians including followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "I would love it if [Abravanel Hall] was filled with Mormons, so we can worship together."Maher's worldly, yet pious life runs parallel to his former, semi-famous roommate, Matt Smith, a character on the ninth season of "The Real World." After the show aired in 2000, the two shared a house for four years.On the MTV show in which seven strangers lived together in New Orleans, Smith was portrayed as a devout Catholic who saw no discrepancy between his love for hip-hop culture and his faith, and was comfortable in own skin. (That attitude notably differed from one of Smith's roommates, Julie Stoffer, who was a Mormon but often seemed to challenge some of the church's teachings just to be seen as cool among her housemates.)Third Day has recorded eight albums certified Gold and two that have gone Platinum. The Georgia band has received one American Music Award, four Grammys and no fewer than 20 Dove Awards.In an interview, Third Day frontman Mac Powell said he is comfortable collaborating with more secular acts such as The Blind Boys of Alabama and Needtobreathe, both of whom contributed to the band's most recent album "Move." One of the songs on "Move" was so temporal that ESPN chose the song to accompany its college football coverage, and another song was selected as the theme song for the reality show "Sarah Palin's Alaska."While the band might not mention "Jesus" in each song, Powell said the band is proud of the way they try to live their lives. "It's such as huge part of us as individuals," he said of his faith. "We tend not to compartmentalize our religion."Powell said the band's follow-up to "Move" is about 80-percent complete with a release date scheduled for late 2012 or early 2013. Whatever direction the album takes, Powell said one thing is clear: "We've backed off of [singing] about politics," he said. "It's important to stand your ground, but I've learned to not talk about politics and religion."
Make Your Move TourThird Day with Matt Maher and Trevor MorganWhen • Thursday, May 3 at 7 p.m.Where • Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake CityTickets • $15 to $75 at ArtTix.org or by calling 801-355-ARTS