Matthew West looks at concerts as a time of connections.
Hearing the crowd sing songs back to him never gets old, explained the singer-songwriter behind hit Christian rock music. It tells him that a song means something to them or maybe helped them through a tough time, and that’s why he gets so excited to go out on stage.
“There’s a distance when you write a song and you release it on the radio,” West said by phone recently from Nashville. “They’re connected to the song. … But then (I can) be with that crowd in person and have a moment in time when everyone’s lives kind of collide that one night.”
One such collision is set to happen Saturday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. when West brings the Roadshow Tour to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre Twp. Tenth Avenue North and Matt Maher will join him for the night, which also will feature worship with special guest Michael W. Smith and Leanna Crawford.

West has earned four Grammy nominations and a Primetime Emmy nomination for original music and lyrics, received the Billboard Music Award for top Christian artist in 2014 and was named Billboard’s Hot Christian Songwriter of the Year in 2016. He has sold more than 1.6 million albums, with his most recent, “All In,” released in 2017.
“I would say first and foremost, I’m passionate about the craft of songwriting, and I take the lyrics and the music and putting the music together very seriously,” West said.
When he performs at the arena, the audience can expect to hear a mix of new and old songs.
“We’ve been doing a tribute to (the) Rev. Billy Graham, who passed away last year,” West said. “Billy Graham had a profound impact on my life. We’ve got a really powerful video presentation that goes along with that song that the crowd has really been responding to in a powerful way. … I say that’s been one of the special moments.”
As a father, West said, trying to find music with suitable messages and that he feels comfortable with his children listening to is a challenge. But Christian music offers uplifting messages, he added.
“You can fill your stomach with health food or junk food, and you can fill your ears with the same things. … This show’s going to bring it,” West said. “It’s going to be high-energy and tons of fun, but it’s going to be a positive message.
“People come to these concerts, and so many people are literally going through the fight of their lives. And the chance … that I get to encourage them? That’s a tremendous honor for me and all the other artists.”
West also said he sees concerts as “mountaintop experiences.”
“It’s a moment, it’s a night in your life where … there’s a chance to press that pause button and be reminded that there’s something bigger happening and that there’s someone who loves us enough to say … ‘be refreshed,’” he said. “When people walk out of that concert, that road show, (I want them to) be reminded that whatever they’re going through, it’s too big for them, but it’s not too big for the God who loves them. And that’s the message.”

If you go
What:
Compassion LIVE’s “The Roadshow Tour,” featuring Matthew West, Tenth Avenue North, Matt Maher and worship with Michael W. Smith and Leanna Crawford
When: Saturday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.
Details: Tickets start at $20, plus fees, and are available at the box office,
ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.