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 5

ONE NATION - Stage 2 - 7.15pm
Having discovered the superb One Nation on the Sunday in an overflowing YMCA 24hr Café I decided that seeing them on the Monday was a must. Stage 2 was equally packed and many people had to wait for others to exit before they could gain admittance to the building. The set was fantastic. They started their dynamic show with a couple of instrumental pieces, which left the audience stunned by the group's musical brilliance and begging for more. More was duly delivered with the arrival of the stunningly sublime vocals of Emma. Her amazing vocal skills were particularly noticeable in the band's rendition of "Ain't No Sunshine", which highlighted the group's individuality as they thoroughly made the song their own. One Nation's enthusiasm and enjoyment was evident throughout their set and they soon got the entire audience dancing to their toe-tapping melodies and catchy beats. On one occasion they took the well known melody of a J Lo number and the riff from Beyonce Knowles' "Crazy In Love" and set powerful lyrics to it expressing their love of and need for God. For me it was the performance of the weekend.
Sarah Lawrence

ATLUM SCHEMA - Christian Aid Performance Café - 7.30pm
On the opening night of Greenbelt 2005, Atlum Schema (Southampton/Leamington based Andy Mort and musical companion Ben Munday) caught the attention of an unsuspecting Performance Cafe crowd and left them wondering what they had just witnessed. What started as Andy's solo experiments now warranted the full band treatment, hence, Munday is now a permanent addition (adding bass, guitar and backing vocals), while drummer Luke Roberts does good trade in driving beats and epic samples. Suits, style and sophisticated songwriting were all that was needed to grab the attention and imagination of a tired Monday night crowd. The set began with the jaw-dropping "End Of A City" - one bloke, a guitar, beat-boxing and a loop pedal lost us in another world for an enticing six minutes. From there on Andy located himself firmly behind the piano, twisting his neck like a contortionist, practically eating the microphone, blasting out fearless falsetto before ending songs with barely a whisper. The audience increased as new tracks "Truckstop" and "Local Weather Report" were played. The highlights were "Weedkiller" and "Counterfeit Love" (the track Andy played to keep spirits high when Kevin Max went AWOL for his acoustic set). If anything marred the performance it was poor sound levels - as Andy mauled the keys we sometimes struggled to hear what was coming out). If I've done a bad job of describing the Atlum Schema sound, that's because it's a near impossible task. It's epic, beautiful, scary, memorable and technically interesting music. With future gigs including a support slot for Cathy Burton, these guys are going from strength to strength. With any luck I'll be able to circle them in my GB2007 programme.
Ewan Jones

CANDI STATON - Main Stage - 8.05pm
It was only a matter of time before Candi Staton came to Greenbelt. After singing gospel as a child, a string of R&B hits in the '60s and disco hits in the '70s, violent marriages and alcoholism, this diva from the deep south switched her focus back to her roots - gospel. Since then she has won several Dove awards and has a thriving television ministry. That didn't stop her having a British dance hit in 1991 after The Source remixed her song "You Got The Love" to chart topping appeal. This is, of course, what most of the muddied masses would have known her for as they flocked around the main stage on the final night of Greenbelt 06. She came with a large band including brass and backing vocalists, all looking ready to hit the crowd up with some soul. It was a weak start however. The opening cover of Elvis' "Caught In A Trap" was no more than any competent covers band could do. "I'm Just A Prisoner", one of her early hits, rolled by, followed by a new song of old school blues-brothers R&B that was played well enough, but you felt the band itching for more freedom. With Candi's cover of Gladys Night's "Nights On Broadway" they got it. The brass stabbed, the bass slapped and Candi and the crowd came alive. This was more like it. After taking a moment to thank God, then the press and her fans (in that order), for support, her old R&B hit "I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than Be A Young Man's Fool)" and her cover of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" seemed a tad incongruous, but it didn't matter. She had the crowd, and still had the mojo, though mellowed by age. After Rick Walker's "In The Ghetto" the audience finally got what they came for. As the heavens opened the band stormed into "Young Hearts Run Free" and as the crowd grooved (and the umbrellas bounced) a muddy Cheltenham became Las Vegas sizzling in the summer heat of '76. After many extended solos the final cut of the night could only be "You've Got The Love". From a purely critical point of view this sounded like a blues band who didn't really know what to do with a club dance tune, and repeating the mistake by doing the same tune as an encore seemed asking for trouble. But what does a critic know! As the familiar bassline pumped out the ebullient crowd were ecstatic and the veteran diva ended the night in triumph. Candi had served us well with a plate of nostalgia on what was a Greenbelt night to remember.
Paul Baker

MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD - Main Stage - 9.45pm
Franti supported U2 on the Achtung Baby tour, recorded with the legendary beat poet William Burrows and is well known for his protest rants against racism, militarism and globalisation. So despite being cold, muddy, wet and at the end of the weekend the crowd turned out and I went open minded. Michael opened with an intro about freedom and being open minded and the lyrics certainly weren't middle of the road. They were thought provoking and challenging. In truth, the lyrics seemed more important than the repetitive riffs and though the fusion of reggae, rock and funk got the crowd jumping the repetition of Michael's "revolutionary" hectoring and such highly dubious proclamations as "God is too big for just one religion" and "tell me lies, lies, when I cannot bear the truth" made this a set that might have suited liberal political agendas but left many Christians in the crowd uneasy.
Rachel Nixon

KATO - Christian Aid Performance Café - 10pm
This was billed in the programme as a solo appearance by Keith Ayling, but the rest of the band seemed to have come along as well so what we actually got was Kato unplugged. Despite this being Kato's only live appearance this year (as Keith is taking a year's sabbatical to do charity work and learn how to preach - yes, really!), this was a relaxed and confident performance which included some favourites from 'Songs To Help You Survive' (2002) and 'Welcome To My World' (2001). The set also featured Keith reading us a couple of extracts from two of his favourite books. For the penultimate song, the band recruited two drummers from the audience to join them on stage to play bongos - a potentially disastrous move but one which actually worked surprisingly well! Finishing the evening - and, for most of the audience present, the festival - with a worship song was an inspired touch which made this evening's memories into something special.
Mark Goodge CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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