Greenbelt '06: The Music Reviews

Tuesday 29th August 2006

Our comprehensive review of the music at Cheltenham's arts festival GREENBELT concludes. A total of 17 reviewers filed 70 reviews. Read and be amazed.

Continued from page 2


YFRIDAY - Main Stage - 5pm
The Newcastle lads' brand of anthemic rock is tailor-made for a festival setting, so this made a great start to the Saturday main stage line up. Being first on can have its drawbacks - I remember some of the dismal crowds for opening acts at earlier festivals - but the fans had turned out in force for this one and the sizeable audience were rewarded by a fine performance featuring a selection of songs from both the new and older albums. The songs from 'Universal' with their impassioned directness and their call to go all out for the Gospel of Jesus Christ were particularly powerful. There's a buzz around Yfriday's gigs these days that reminds me a lot of early Delirious? appearances, which bodes well for the future. A future Greenbelt headline act, maybe?
Mark Goodge

THROUGH SOLACE - Stage 2 - 5pm
Through Solace followed current tour-mates, For The Day Of Redemption, in forceful style. 10 minutes' respite from full-on hardcore and now it's time for metalcore mayhem. This is heavy, heavy stuff - once again packed with the passion and integrity of hardcore - with an added metallic twist. Frontman Luke Nicholas was wearing a Zao top and provided perhaps their closest comparison, with the possible exception of the Nodes Of Ranvier. Talking of tops, guitarist Kev was wearing his beloved Barry Town football shirt, which when the UV light fell on it provided the most garish of colour schemes. The band had time for a couple of full-on metal tracks that provided some quality riffage but it was their more hardcore fuelled tracks that gave us those blistering breakdowns that metalcore merchants are so able to provide for us. It made good sense to finish on the title track of their excellent EP, 'An Innocent Confession'. A great way for a fantastic young band to wrap up Saturday's Meltdown Session.
Greg Sammons

Rob Halligan
Rob Halligan

ROB HALLIGAN - Traidcraft - 5pm
Discovering new musicians can be really uplifting and when Mike Rimmer told me about Rob Halligan I started to get excited. I caught Rob supporting Randy Stonehill earlier this month and was impressed, enough to miss YFriday on main stage to visit the Traidcraft tent where he had been invited to play. The programme did no one playing in the tent any justice by telling them to bring knitting. Rob had to work hard to beat the rain, and enforced poetic interlude, but kept going with real professionalism. The Coventry-based songsmith's songs of loneliness, love and hope dig deep into your heart and acoustic guitar playing leaves you wishing you had tried harder with your guitar. Rob is about to tour again with Gareth Davies-Jones for Fair Trade and if there is any justice Rob will be signed up by next Greenbelt and playing a stage a little more worthy of his talent.
Mick Farrar

Kevin Max
Kevin Max

KEVIN MAX - Main Stage - 6pm
Taking to the stage dressed in ripped black jeans and a black smock which made him look, in the words of one of my co-reviewers, like an "out of control Anglican priest", Kevin Max's visual style was certainly a little unusual. The sense of the slightly bizarre carried over into the music, with Max getting the audience to sing "We've never heard of dc Talk" before doing a song from the dc Talk back catalogue. Most of the material, though, was from his latest album, 'The Imposter', which with their confessional lyrics and subtle, sinuous melodies registered with the audience. These songs were interspersed with a smattering of older songs. But the absolute standout for me and most of the audience was the not-quite-an-encore version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" which would have given the late Jeff Buckley a run for his money. "Musically, Kevin's voice was in good shape though physically he seems to have put on a lot of weight. Someone also suggested that he didn't look too well. The label of "eccentric genius" would seem to be perfect for Max, apart from the minor proviso that he seems to be ostentatiously seeking to appropriate it for himself. Disregarding this musical catch 22, though, Kevin's performance was, for me, one of the highlights of the weekend.
Mark Goodge

LOVERS ELECTRIC - Stage 2 - 6.15pm
The core of Lovers Electric are married couple, Eden (vocals) and David (guitar and vocals). Both are native to Australia but are based here in Britain. They play gigs as a duo, but here we had their full band performance. Stage 2 was packed with people to hear their harmonic melodies. Imagine Blondie being crossed with The Cardigans and you're somewhere close to their sound. Delicate stage personality is Eden, performing in a red dress that she made herself. She can really sing though, and the whole act came across as very well rehearsed and professional. The lyrical content was very positive, but not out-and-out obvious whether they were Christians or not. One outstanding number was their single, "Honey", due out in early September, when the group will be gigging in London. A tight band with lots of cool-appeal. I'd try and see them if they're coming near you.
Dave Griffiths

BRIDGETTE AMOFAH - Christian Aid Performance Café - 6.45pm
Another of the Performance Café's mini-gigs, this featured the former front lady of hipster favourites Oi Va Voi who appeared onstage wearing luminous blue leggings and a white dress, accompanied by guitarist Olly Shepard. Bridgette's breezy, whimsical, jazzy sound was slightly reminiscent of Corinne Bailey Rae (recipient of a mock English Heritage blue plaque hanging from a tree on the festival site). Bridgette seemed to have a thing for Sesame Street; her first song was titled "ABC" and she followed it with something which had her counting up to five. Another number, "The Rain Song", contained some witty references to Weather Girls and that famous song from Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. Halfway through the show, Bridgette pleaded with the audience to come a little closer to the stage: "It's a big stage, and there are only two of us up here." Bridgette had a nice enough voice and the gig should have been a nice, intimate affair. But somehow it felt more like you were watching a rehearsal, rather than an actual gig.
George Luke

STEPHEN DEVINE - New Forms Café - 7pm
Stephen got a tea time slot at the intimate New Forms Café. His start was delayed because his laptop would not co-operate with the sound system. Once he got going - without his prepared backing tracks - he showcased a powerful voice and some skilful guitar playing - sometimes melodic and delicate, sometimes rhythmic and thunderous. "Are You Ready" was interesting lyrically, building to the passionate crescendo: "When the battle's over this war's just begun." Unfortunately, even without his laptop, gremlins beset the PA system throughout the set. "The Rage" was "a quiet song about my temper." Stephen's guitar picking ably accompanied his regretful lyrics, although the repeated "oooh" of the chorus was perhaps missing the special effects. Song three was a celebration of guitar. Stephen explained how he was getting back to playing the instrument after badly breaking his arm. The powerful strumming aptly illustrated this - unfortunately overriding the lyrics. "Help Me" was atmospheric, with a lyric sung from a stalker's point of view. Seeing the stalker as victim was generous. The ending of the song was uncomfortably loud and might have benefited from more subdued guitar and vocals. "Comfort Me" - the title track of Stephen's EP - began quietly, building to a powerful bridge and crashing ending. Overall Stephen delivered a brave set in the face of adversity. He demonstrated that he has a great passion for his music. His new album, 'Pieces Of Me', could well be worth a listen.
John Hebden & Sue Smith

ALL STAR UNITED - Main Stage - 7.05pm
The original line up of American band All Star United are back together and Ian, Brian, Christian and Costa bounded onto the main stage like Andrex puppies and treated us to 45 minutes or so of their unique retro-rock music and zany humour. Their energy was infectious and the crowd were soon going crazy along to "You, You, You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)", a catchy pop song that warmed up the growing crowd nicely. With the occasional fielding of footballs lobbed onto the stage Ian was every bit the entertainer as well as lead vocalist as the band stormed through some great numbers, all very familiar to the ASU fan base crowded at the front, including "Beautiful Thing", "Superstar", the rocky "La La Land" (with its catchy hooks) and the brilliant "The Song Of The Year" with its witty jibe at the Nashville suits and the whole Dove Awards mentality. I guess their next CD will be called 'Album Of The Year'. Continuing the theme ASU finished with "Smash Hit". I really liked these guys, their rock/pop music was well played and Ian Eskelin is a brilliant front man for the band. Just as impressive as his talent for singing and songwriting and his banter with the crowd, was his ability to speak about God. He gently encouraged anyone going through a hard time to literally dive into Jesus Christ. A polished and entertaining performance from one of Christian music's most loved bands.
Ruth Saint

BLINDSIDE - Main Stage - 8.15pm
Without doubt the highlight of my day, if not the weekend. Absolutely fantastic, hit after hit after hit, delivered in an energetic and engaging way by the Scandinavian hard music stars. Their brand of post-hardcore (as in they used to be a melodic hardcore band, rather than just another word for emo-meets-screamo) is totally their own - and they won over a huge crowd that gathered as the night drew in. Frontman Christian was up to his usual high-kicking on-stage frenzy, whilst the guitarist was more reserved in providing just one cartwheel. As things peaked two-thirds of the way through their set, shock-horror they blew the PA! Suddenly, their great sonic assault was reduced to what sounded like a band practice in next-door's garage (just imagine if Blindside did live next door though!). For a while it was entertaining and an interesting insight as to what it must sound like on stage, but there was a big cheer when their full sound returned, leaving time for a couple more songs and then their usual finishing number "About A Burning Fire". Never too heavy to scare anyone off but heavy enough to satisfy most metalheads, Blindside have achieved a rare and amazing thing.
Greg Sammons

BUTTERFLY POLITE - Stage 2 - 9.45pm
I read Butterfly Polite's Greenbelt programme write up and was intrigued to say the least! The thought of glockenspiel, violins, flute, harmonica, guitars and percussion sounded something fresh for Stage 2. I wasn't wrong! The female lead vocals from Sarah were soft but confidently assertive while the band, who remained seated with their array of instruments, showed considerable skill as they ran through songs from their album, 'The Mess We Made'. After awhile however, I became a little bored. The sound at the start was interesting and unique but unfortunately every song seemed to sound similar to the last. I couldn't quite work out whether they were a band, or whether they were session musicians supporting the vocalist, which is what it seemed. There's no doubt these guys are talented and work well together but they just seemed to lack the spark I'd hoped for. But if you were looking for a light and easy listening folk band, which one Greenbelter commented is what was needed on a Saturday evening, then Butterfly Polite were good to chill-out to.
Rachel Nixon

Daniel Bedingfield
Daniel Bedingfield

DANIEL BEDINGFIELD - Main Stage - 10pm
Having been privileged to sit in on one of the most envisioning press conferences I'd ever attended, when Daniel spoke at length to Greenbelt's media horde about the hugely important Stop The Traffik campaign, I was really up for this one. By the time my friend and I pushed through the Main Stage throng sufficiently to get a good view, Daniel was wrapping up "I Can't Read You". My initial emotions were mixed - relief that Daniel was in such good voice, disappointment that he was doing this gig without a full band and with only guitarist Eric and bass player for company, and warm nostalgia fuelled by Greenbelt at last returning to a main stage worthy of the name. Certainly this new, grassy venue, with the stage lights strobing into the night sky, has all the atmosphere that only a big open air crowd can bring. For the next hour and more we were treated to a breathtaking virtuoso display by Daniel which left the 14,000 or so crowd dazed and delirious. Daniel's best known songs were sung - "James Dean", "If You're Not The One", "Holiness", "The Way", "I'm Never Gonna Leave Your Side" - sometimes rather perfunctorily but always with dazzling vocal skill while his seemingly wilful fragments of covers (like "Billie Jean") showed that the interplay between the singer and his two accompanists was of the highest order. If Daniel's set had stopped there most of the girls would have gone to their tents delighted, especially when Daniel's ballads "for the ladies" (cue screams) while most of the lads would have acknowledged that Daniel's beat box skills are only just short of miraculous (how DOES anyone sing and beat box at the same time?)! But what set this performance apart as something much more than the pop hitmaker demonstrating the quality of his chops and the depth of his catalogue by performing the fan favourites in stripped down versions was the sheer memorability of the three new songs Daniel performed. After apologising for his piano playing limitations (unnecessarily), Daniel sat at a concert grand and sang three unforgettable new songs, one of them an aching call for closure to stop the heartache of a love affair gone bad and another a stark look at the wretched life of a sex slave and its painful question, "You were meant for somebody.What if it was me?" With such a song as this Daniel's spoken plug for Stop The Traffik had hundreds scribbling the website address ( on any available scrap of paper while his earlier mention of sister Nicola showed that there is no sibling rivalry in the Tribe Of Bedingfield. Highlights? Those dazzling new songs, "First Base" with a groove so strong you could hear the drums in your head and that beautifully sung, luminously sincere rendition of the Keith Green classic "Create In Me A Clean Heart". All in all, this set gave notice to the great British public that here was a musician moving from being a talented performer of well-crafted pop to a singer/songwriter with the depth and creative vision to reach a generation.
Tony Cummings

SUNDAY, 27th August

Birmingham's Deathisnotwelcomehere brought us a brand of post-hardcore that simply does not sound British. The closest UK comparison would come courtesy of the Hurt Process, but it's Emery who this band most reminds me of. And it's as a result of riding this buzz-genre that these guys have achieved so much. That's not to say they don't deserve to, they totally deserve every bit of success they receive. Their heart and passion is intense, they were open and honest about their faith and keen to share it with the audience, and inspire us with faith. Their musicianship and delivery was exemplary, this band are gonna go places. Already making inroads in the US, the band may well be on the cusp of a record deal. Whether they can make enough of an impression before the emo bubble bursts is another thing. I sincerely hope and pray they do, as thousands of emo kids desperately need to hear the positive and uplifting message they bring - and best of all it's all wrapped up in a tight and alluring musical package.
Greg Sammons

Cathy Burton
Cathy Burton

CATHY BURTON - Centaur - 2pm
This lady is no stranger to Greenbelt but correct me if I'm wrong, this was the first time she has played a full set in the Centaur. In previous years Cathy has played in the Performance Café, a great atmosphere but always a tight squeeze to see the performer and many people drift away disappointed at being unable to see anything or catch the vibes. Not so with the Centaur and in Cathy's case the downstairs area was full, mostly with parents and young children, but this venue made it easier for mums and dads to chill and enjoy Cathy while the children had room to spread. Two other things in its favour were being close to decent toilets (a big plus if you've got kids believe me!) and the fact the lights were down making it conducive for the kids to nod off thus enabling quality time for parents or vice versa! Cathy was dressed in a pretty red dress and shoes and apart from those tunes familiar to her fans she also sang a few numbers from her latest album 'Silvertown', one of them being "Open". This was a gentle song about knowing God is always there even if he can't be seen. Another radio friendly tune from the new album was "God Of The Sky" which the audience clearly liked. We also liked Cathy's debut as a beat boxing artist, in honour of Daniel Bedingfield's performance on Saturday, which won her a round of applause! On the subject of Dans, Cathy was minus her colleague Dan Wheeler today because his wife had just given birth on the Thursday - congratulations Rachel and Dan! Cathy sang a tender love song dedicated to her husband called "My Wintertime Love" and an old favourite, "Hollow". Cathy's singing and guitar playing was first class as usual - she's so laid back I'm sure she must play her guitar while cooking the dinner!
Ruth Saint

Showing page 3 of 6

1 2 3 4 5 6

Reader Comments

Posted by Kerry in manchester @ 15:37 on Nov 27 2008

wow you did good and have you listened to LZ7 they are respectful xx

Kerry xx

Posted by Luke in Kent @ 19:32 on May 13 2007

hi imluke the drummer of somethingABOUTnothing. just wanted to say thank you to anyone who left any nice reviews of our set and i hope everyone enjoyed it. the crowd may of been surprised by our win but to be were we. all credit to every band that played that afternoon and i hope to see more of them soon.

take care and god bless

Posted by Tim in Kent @ 16:05 on Sep 27 2006

How come The Cadets managed to slip in and out of Greenbelt almost unnoticed? Fresh from their previous night's victory - coming first out of 50 bands at London Rock Garden's Battle of the bands - they entranced a modest lunchtime audience at Stage 2. Main Stage next year?

Posted by Revd Paul Timmis in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire @ 15:18 on Sep 19 2006

Liam, I guess we're not going to agree on this one. Scripture often doesn't make clear pronouncements in the way that people sometimes think/claim. It always has to be interpreted. I simply don't think that the Bible says anything about what we now understand to be loving same-sex relationships and so there's absolutely no "sacrifice of principles" here for me.

Reply by Dan in Lincolnshire @ 20:26 on Sep 20 2006

There’s no "sacrifice of principles" for me either. John Bell put it very nicely but he still needed nearly an hour to explain very carefully the language and context of certain scriptures. Would be very difficult to condense this to 600 characters, so I won’t try. I accept you don't wish to kick people out, but when you suggest that diversity has been stretched too far I'm not sure how diversity can be restricted fairly and biblically.

[report abuse]

Posted by Rich in West Midlands @ 23:05 on Sep 18 2006

Carrying on, Liam, on one hand you say "of course we need to welcome people in and show them love" but does that exclude people who's viewpoint doesn't agree with your own? I really hope that's not what you're implying. The one reason I love Greenbelt is it's inclusivity of people who's lifestyles differ greatly from mine (in some instances) and are made to feel welcome and accepted in the light of the Christian faith. Something I saw in action again at this year's festival.

Posted by Revd Paul Timmis in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire @ 20:46 on Sep 15 2006

Liam, it's your final comment that says it all, I'm afraid. Did you listen to James Alison or John Bell at all over the weekend? If not, please download the MP3s. What you have just put in print is, to me, far more offensive than ANYTHING said from mainstage on Friday night. We're meant to break down barriers, not put them up. INCLUDE.

Reply by Andrew in York, United Kingdom @ 14:16 on Mar 28 2011

I fear that you have become slightly taken by the tide around you. If you're standing in a river with a strong opposing current, you have three choices: you can go with the flow (applying all the new doctrines society throws upon us); you can stand still (being on the fence over such matters as abortion and fornication etc), but the problem with standing still is you'll just get dragged along by the strong current anyway; or you can battle against it (opposing the customs of the world, like Paul says in Romans 12:2).

[report abuse]

Reply by Rich in West Midlands @ 23:01 on Sep 18 2006

Liam, in what way does including a person or group in to a community imply condoning an action? If the Christian community is ever to be seen as inclusive to those outside of the faith or the traditional Church "clique" then EVERYONE must be invited to the table, whether we agree with their standpoint or not. I thought the Bible (and especially Jesus) taught inclusivity not exclusivity?

[report abuse]

Reply by Liam (cont') in Glasgow @ 14:25 on Sep 18 2006

Dan also implies that I was suggesting that certain people be "Kicked out". However this was never suggested. I was mearly pointing out some of what went on. Of coarse we need to welcome people in and show them love, but we do not need to condone & turn a blind eye to actions which are clearly contradictiry to what the bible teaches us.

[report abuse]

Reply by Liam in Glasgow @ 14:20 on Sep 18 2006

I didn't listen to either of the artists, but if I get a chance I will download them. However I fail to see what is offensive. Dan (above) states "I don’t see how diversity can be taken too far unless it’s done under a sacrifice of principles which this isn’t", but how can condoning homosexuality not be a sacrifice of principals?

[report abuse]

Posted by Dan in Lincolnshire @ 16:41 on Sep 15 2006

To be honest, I saw no one drinking in the village outside organic beer tent. I'm sure it happened, but I honestly didn’t it, so can’t be that widespread. And if it is, what should we do? Kick out the atheists? Should take the opportunity to kick out the gays too. GB is beautiful in its diversity and I don’t see how diversity can be taken too far unless it’s done under a sacrifice of principles which this isn’t. GB doesn’t condone drunkenness and has been known to evict people. Also, the diversity has not been stretched. GB has ALWAYS fully welcomed anyone, and long may that continue.

Posted by Liam (cont') in Glasgow @ 15:23 on Sep 15 2006

Whilst I would agree that it is a good thing for Greenbelt to attract a diverse range of people, I would also say that it has in many ways allowed the diversity to be stretched so far that it has become almost new age rather than Christian. The advert in the Greenbelt magazine which promotes the 'Gay Christian Community' says it all I'm afraid

Posted by Liam in Glasgow @ 15:22 on Sep 15 2006

To say that you 'know nothing of the "bunch of youth clutching Tennants cans" (clever cans!)' is beyond belief. I was at Greenbelt for the fist time this year and was shocked at some of what was going on. I witnessed several drunk /intoxicated people who were suffering the effects of consuming too much alcohol and cannabis (which I witnessed on more than one occasion).

Reply by Ymladd in somerset @ 19:40 on Sep 20 2006

So liam you saw several people over an entire period of time allowing for the sheer numbers on site it is quite possible. But I was there for the entire weekend including standing in the mainstage pit on duty as steward and I saw none. BUt anyway Several out of thousands is good in this day and age.

[report abuse]

Posted by Revd Paul Timmis in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire @ 10:24 on Sep 15 2006

Sleeping on this, what I should also have said is that the church needs to engage itself in political debate and not exist in some kind of ghetto divorced from the world - a ghetto in which everyone is NICE to one another. Sometimes love means speaking out and being angry. Wish Tony Blair had grasped this. Glad Martyn has. Keep going MJ...and Greenbelt!

Reply by Zee Zee in Herts @ 08:06 on Mar 20 2007

Martyn clearly lost it on that occassion. If he had thought it out he would realise that his ranting outburst spread a smoke screen over the real issue. The use of certain language was a loss of control. Shame. I've followed Martyn's career for over 20 years and have agreed with him, disagreed with him but always appreciated the way, and the passion with which he's stated his case. Until now! And then to release it?

[report abuse]

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

Add your comment

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.