Greenbelt '07: The Music Reviews

Wednesday 29th August 2007

For the ninth time we've expanded this comprehensive review of the music of GREENBELT

Continued from page 4

Dan Wheeler (photo by Mark Goodge)
Dan Wheeler (photo by Mark Goodge)

DAN WHEELER - Performance Café - 4.00pm
Having been too late for a seat at the previous gig, I managed to shuffle into the tent and grab a bench space at the front during the artist changeover - something which didn't take too long, as this was effectively the second part of a double-header with Cathy Burton using exactly the same band - the only change was for Dan and Cathy to swap places on stage! Despite having played guitar for a whole host of artists and recordings, Dan is probably less recognisable than his backing vocalist for this gig and, consequently, had to work harder to connect with the audience - which probably wasn't helped by the fact that a fair proportion of the audience hadn't come to see Dan at all, they were just there in order to ensure they had a space for the subsequent performance by After The Fire. Fortunately, his songs taken from his 'Long Road Round' and 'Seven Kinds Of Grace' albums are tailor-made for the acoustic setting of the Performance Cafe and, allied with an ability to deliver just the right amount of banter and between-song chat - something that's a lot harder than many performers imagine - he pulled it off extremely well. Dan Wheeler and Cathy Burton are doing a joint tour together this autumn, so if you didn't catch them at Greenbelt then you've got another chance - I'd highly recommend it!
Mark Goodge

STAIRWAY - Underground - 4.20pm
Next year this band celebrate their (cough cough) anniversary. Put it this way, they've been going longer than I've been alive! So with this wealth of experience and a tasty back catalogue, this is one for all fans of '80s metal to get excited about. So it's a crying shame that they were let down by a rather disappointing live sound. I'm not blaming them though, Stage 2 (now rebranded as the Underground stage) has a reputation for rather substandard sound production. Instead of filling the place with a big metal sound, it just came across as rather thin and lacking the necessary crunch. Still, however much you try to cover up their sound with technical difficulties, you can't help but tell that these guys have got a great collection of tunes. Despite the crowd being rather thinner on the ground than you'd expect (some went so far as to voice their concerns on the live sound to the sound guy before huffing out) the core crowd were obviously loving every second of it. With the exception of Seventh Angel, these guys were the UK's premier exponent of 'white metal' when it peaked 15-20 years ago - it's not hard to see why.
Greg Sammons

After The Fire  (photo by Peter Dilley)
After The Fire (photo by Peter Dilley)

AFTER THE FIRE - Performance Café - 5.00pm
ATF2 needed no introduction to a capacity crowd that knew what they wanted and got it (except for the encores, that is). Pete Banks and John Russell know how to play a crowd and how to pace a set and it showed. Ian and Matt are no slouches either. This was at the more acoustic end of their material, evidenced by PB playing guitar more than usual (but did mean that they played a hefty chunk of "Pilgrim") and a very restrained "Dark Side" (a track that was recorded in the '80s, and was finally released recently) which morphed wonderfully into "You're Gorgeous" - after so many years of hearing them play "Help" it was nice to hear a different cover. For me, "Billy Billy" didn't really work in this style, but it was the only one (probably due to a lack of power chords), though getting Rob Halligan to join them for two numbers was a clever move. They closed with "Laser Love", the greatest-hit-that-should-have-been and sent the audience away very happy and wanting a lot, lot more. On this showing, there's more in the tank from these rock survivors.
Paul Ganney

MY SPOON - Underground - 5.00pm
Someone at Greenbelt needs to get the venue allocation sorted out. Both My Spoon and Dweeb have grassroots followings far too big for the small, cramped Underground venue. The queue outside The Underground had been building for two hours prior to My Spoon. I was one of the lucky 240 punters who managed to get in, twice as many people were turned away. The band has been regularly described as Rage Against The Machine meets Busted and you can see why - catchy and fun but surprisingly heavy. Starting off with the now legendary Spoon intro, the set quickly reaches "Pardon Me", with the singalong "God above the Earth who reigns with love - FORGIVES ME". The band then took a left turn into a cover medley featuring such seminal acts as Fall Out Boy, Take That, The Proclaimers and (erm) the Village People. By now the whole crowd have grins from ear to ear and the band are laughing their heads off as they launch into (do my ears deceive me) "Kum Ba Ya"! You can see the steam rising off the band as they return to tracks from their 'Love, Stories And Lies' album. The band were determined to fit in as much as possible to their 30 minute slot - sing-alongs, tempo changes, chunky riffs, dollops of good humour and a blatant positive message. Next year they and Dweeb must surely be on Mainstage.
Peter Willoughby

THIS BEAUTIFUL REPUBLIC - Mainstage - 5.45pm
The Monday afternoon slot at Greenbelt is always a tough one due to the decreasing numbers of people at the festival and the tired torpor which inevitably kicks in after a weekend of camping. Yet American rockers This Beautiful Republic, whose debut 'Even Heroes Need A Parachute' had only recently been released by Fierce!, seem like a band definitely worthy of the challenge. From the moment they emerged they hit the ground running with a performance filled with passion and energy. The band looked in their element when on stage, with plenty of jumping and guitar swinging. Musically, few bands over the weekend were as tight as them, with a strong rhythm section and chugging power chord filled riffs being traded between guitarists Adam Smith and Jeremy Kunkle. Frontman Ben Olin is a natural performer with a gutsily expressive voice and he is definitely on a par with most modern rock front men such as Brandon Boyd from Incubus or Ian Watkins from the Lostprophets. The set is filled with plenty of fist in the air chant-along songs from the band's debut, delivering a series of top-notch Christ-centred songs. It's not hard to see why these rockers from Ohio are starting to make waves in the Christian scene Stateside.
Gavin Owen

IAIN ARCHER - Mainstage - 6.00pm
With a slight breeze and grey overcast clouds, Iain Archer entered the stage with just a guitar and his soulful voice. A perfect setting for his wistful melancholia. Chopped and muted guitar was looped underneath ambient and melodic guitar sounds, with an expressive voice to match. I was instantly transfixed and began to think how amazing an atmosphere one man and his electric guitar can create on the Mainstage at Greenbelt, this of course with Billy Bragg in mind on the first night. The rhythm section was introduced for the second song "Running In Dreams", with crunching U2 guitars. The voice of Archer, especially on the finger-picked "Canal Song" reminded me of the fragility of Ed Harcourt. "Collector's Shop" was a favourite, displaying a distinctive northern sound, with an almost country rock jangle and old blues jam combined whilst Archer threw his wee body energetically across the spacious stage. The infectious sounds are equally impacting from the subtler songs to the more upbeat and rocking tunes like "When It Kicks In". It's not hard to believe that this man co-wrote "Run", one of the standout tracks from Snow Patrol's 'Final Straw' breakthrough album.
Tom Whitman

DWEEB - YMCA Café - 6.00pm
They perform, entertain and cajole. Fanatical fans explode into excitement and even dress up as pirates in tribute to live favourite "Pirate + Copse = Quandary". They are ebullient and edgy, jazzy, rocking and just shockingly good. But they were let down by the sound at their first gig of the day, before they literally pegged it to the Underground venue to crank it up and play some new songs. Nonetheless, the party went on and it only took two songs before frontman Tim went into the crowd and brought the pirates back on stage with him. Showmanship prevailed with the melodic harmonies and jazzy ending of "Identity Is Not A State Of Mind", all the while the band minus drummer Dave parading the stage in their smart black ties and waistcoats. I'm far from understanding many of their more obscure lyrical references but it's clear where their focus lies, as Tim explained before final song "Jesus You Are My Everything", stating that this song sums them up. Badgerman scaled an amp and Tim forayed once again into the crowd, urging them to jump on his count. From good sources they rocked out at the Underground, despite a stage dive going wrong and free CDs having to be handed out, once again they wooed the crowd, swapping instruments and performing their rather humorous and unusual cover of the Spice Girls "Viva Forever". Bigger stages are expected for the band that, once their much awaited album is released, could well be the hottest thing on the UK scene since Delirious?.
Tom Whitman

Erin Starnes (photo by Mark Goodge)
Erin Starnes (photo by Mark Goodge)

ERIN STARNES - Performance Café - 8.15pm
The name of Erin Starnes, or just plain Erin as it appears on the CD sleeve, will be familiar to Cross Rhythms Radio listeners from her airplay hit, "But You Say". After thanking her audience for choosing to listen to her instead of Duke Special, Erin and her band launched into a polished set drawn mainly from her independently-released album, 'Songs From The End Of My Bed'. This is the kind of gig that the Performance Café was made for, with the intimate setting getting the best out of an acoustic performance featuring a Cuban box drum as the percussion instrument - something unusual enough for the compere to take a good look at before leaving the stage - and with former Why? frontman Ant Parker on bass. Erin is an excellent singer and a pretty good songwriter, the highlight for me being "Thousand Words" (written for her backing vocalist's wedding). My only quibble is that, having looked at the CR reviewer's comments on Erin's performance in last year's Greenbelt article, I find that I could almost have cut and pasted it into my review this time. Time for some more new material, I reckon.
Mark Goodge

EZIO - Performance Café - 9.00pm
Ezio are a mind-blowing live act to savour. Made up of the joint guitar talents of Ezio Lunedei, who writes and sings the material, and Booga on guitar who gives it the groove and the sensuous solos. Ezio alternate between many different styles, with Booga's South-American influences and more standard rock 'n' roll playing. From Lunedei's harmonica intros and story telling to Booga's ridiculously fast solo at the end of "Saxon Street", they had the crowd nodding their heads and laughing in disbelief. They do not apologise for having fun and enjoying their music, as Lunedei explained when someone challenged him to write a political song. What ensued, and was thus performed, was a waltz time song about third world exploitation, with the line "You are the girl of my dreams, a mail order beauty from the Philippines". They finished with an old school blues rock stomper and the refrain "One day I'm gonna die, one day I'm gonna die", repeated with various impersonations from Johnny Cash to Stephen Hawking. The crowd were invited to join in, duly obliged, and rewarded Ezio's efforts with the first standing ovation I had seen in the Performance Café all weekend.
Tom Whitman

Delirious? (photo by Elaine Duigenan)
Delirious? (photo by Elaine Duigenan)

DELIRIOUS? - Mainstage - 9.30pm
This was Delirious?' third time at Greenbelt (the other two times were 2002 and 2004) and expectations were definitely high. As the thousands of Greenbelters gathered at the Mainstage for the festival finale, the band hit the stage with a new song, a brave move on any band's part but especially for one with a much loved back catalogue. It seemed to pay off, as the crowd got into the show straight away. As the show progressed, the band went through a good number of songs from 'The Mission Bell', each with their own unique visual being projected on to the video wall. After some strong and uplifting anthems there are some more sombre and reflective moments, which are often some of the best moments in a Delirious? gig. The hard hitting lyrics of our "God Reigns" saw a sea of hands raised in praise and worship, as did "Miracle Maker", which was then followed by the D: classic, "History Maker". The song was accompanied by an extremely impressive visual, which was used on their last UK tour, showing hands raised and hundreds of people jumping. The band also got a few sing-alongs, most notably are the shouts of "WOOAA HERE WE COME" in "Paint The Town Red". The set was brought to an end with an encore of "Here I Am Send Me". For my money the D:boys had been better in previous years but they still did enough to send the Greenbelt crowd away happy.
Gavin Owen 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 Dweeb in dweebland @ 16:47 on Nov 13 2007


Posted by Johanna in U.K. @ 08:35 on Nov 2 2007

I thoroughly enjoyed Chloe Leavers who sang during Lleuwen's performance. Does anyone know where I might get the recording of this?

Posted by Carole in Forest of Dean @ 16:47 on Oct 23 2007

Had a great time volunteering in Contributers' reception.Hi to everyone I met. Really loved Kevin Max,fabulous voice and his guitarist surely rates a mention. Delererious were great.Duke Special and Trent were new to me , but will look out for them in the future.

Posted by Gavin Owen in Wales @ 22:47 on Sep 17 2007

ive done a review of delirious and thebandwithnoname they should be in the process of being edited for inclusion on the site

Posted by d-fan in UK @ 14:50 on Sep 14 2007

Wow you'd never know from this CR review that Delirious? were even at Greenbelt. Bit of a mistake leaving out the biggest headline band of the whole festival.

Reply by e in stoke @ 15:04 on Feb 13 2008

to be fair, i think alot of people actually left the site after duke special had played. seemed a lot of people though he should have been headlining, and he was fantastic! delirious were a little flat this time round.

[report abuse]

Reply by Greg Sammons in Stoke on Trent @ 14:37 on Sep 17 2007

A rather belated review of Delirious will be added asap

[report abuse]

Posted by Damian in Cardiff @ 11:15 on Sep 14 2007

I was only able to go to Greenbelt for the opening night.

Sarah Masen's opening Mainstage set was great, especially '75 Grains'. Ric Hordinski, otherwise known as 'Monk', accompanied on guitar throughout her set.

Over the Rhine were the main reason I went, and I felt they connected well with the audience. Their concerts always have an intimate feel to them, regardless of venue, and my impression was that many in the crowd had not heard their music before, and were not expecting this. Those who know Over the Rhine of old will realise what a rare treat it was to hear Linford sing backing vocals on a couple of songs.

When they sang songs from "Ohio", I noticed that lots of people who had been sitting on the field in front of the stage, got up and stood at the front, and several people who had been walking past the Mainstage, stopped to listen. Karin and Linford were in fine form, and their new drummer gave an awesome solo that wouldn't have been out of place with any great rock band.

I'm surprised there was no review of "Last Orders" - Greenbelt's fast-paced and humorous late-night round-up of the day. Over the Rhine were there, with their drummer playing a chair using brushes. The highlight for me, however, was Billy Bragg covering Pinball Wizard in the style of Johnny Cash - awesome!

Reply by Greg Sammons in Stoke on Trent @ 14:42 on Sep 17 2007

In regards to Last Orders - we only reviewed the musical side of things. Otherwise I'd have written reviews on Jo Enright and Get Up Stand Up amongst other things as well.
Last Orders does contain music but is not strictly a musical event (if you see what I mean).

[report abuse]

Posted by Tim in Kidderminster, Worcestershire @ 04:55 on Sep 10 2007

Sorry, I love after the fire but they were shocking!
I can't believe you guys missed This Beautiful Republic. They were my highlight. Surely they are destined for big things

Posted by Liz Long in Worthing @ 14:53 on Sep 5 2007

Monday night was the best for me - two of my favourite bands playing one after the other.

Firstly [dweeb] who are such a great live band - they rock out and they love doing it. As well as this they are quite possibly the most random band I have ever had the pleasure to see and that fits with me perfectly! They start their show with the theme music to Grandstand (RIP) and launch straight into Priate+Copse=Quandary which talks about pirates and ducks, but is actually all about how we all need God and looking for him. At one point the drummer, Dave, was rapping "The Fresh Prince of Shrewsbury" at an adoring crowd!
There were also some great new songs which will be on their album coming out soon.
They were awesome and DEFINATELY need to be put on Mainstage! Always!

Then there was Delirious? who did not dissapoint as always. The set and visuals they used I have seen before, but that didnt make it less enjoyable, and was actually quite nice to have that familiarity. They sang History Maker, as always, which was awesome, and great to bunny hop to!

A fantastic Greenbelt all round, but the bands this year were AMAZING!

Posted by dave watts in stapleford, nottingham @ 07:22 on Sep 5 2007

For me the highlight of the musical side of Greenbelt was Soweto Kinch which came as a complete surprise
because I had never heard his name and I don't especially like Jazz !
His joy of playing and his rapport with the crowd together with the sound and his amazing rapping plus the rest of his group (the drummer in particular was incredible) made this my GB highlight

Posted by Non-Linear Dynamics in Farnborough @ 22:29 on Sep 4 2007

No review of the mighty Willard Grant Conspiracy? We have the technology...

In the band's second visit to Greenbelt, they played two sets of their more acoustic alt-folk/country/desert songs in the Perfomance cafe, the (sadly) now clean shaven frontman Robert Fisher with a lead/slide guitarist and a cello for the Saturday slot.

Mainly taken from the more acoustic of their recent albums (Regard The End) these songs are unafraid to deal with big themes like faith, love and loss whilst rooted in deep south americana (tales of old school rural preachers, dying grandparents set to evolved folk tunes and, as a personal favourite, God, the Devil and a Seattle basketball coach).

Fisher sings with a deep baritone and plays with the confidence and laid back repartee with the audience of a man who seriously knows his alt-country game. The second guitarist might have used a little more rehearsal time, but with the band structure (best part of 40 members spead out over the world) that might unrealistic. The cello dramatically filled out the tunes on the Saturday. Overall though it managed to sound loose rather than ragged.

In conclusion, an excellent fit with the weather and the overall festival vibe this year.

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

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