The festival reviewed by Dan Raywood.
In the same settings of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey came the festival this is forever known as the other Glastonbury Festival. After the rampage of three weeks ago in Pilton. This time the atmosphere was somewhat relaxed and laid back for this Christian festival. This time there was no beer tent, litter pickers or Cypress Hill, the only hill on show was the magnificent Glastonbury Tor. This festival is run by a group of Christians in the Glastonbury and Street area, headed by Rick and Helen Hillard and backed by a group of supporting workers. This event has had more ups and downs than the arena but this year could be set for a record crowd with a larger than normal set of attractions. The gala night kicked off with a set from Noel Tredinnick and the All Souls Orchestra who were joined briefly by Paul Heyman who did is Messianic praise thing on the violin. Following Paul was the impressive Linda Pearce who used her powerful voice to sing some of the hits of the '60s, in particular her covers of "When Will I See You Again" and "Pretty Woman" stood out to an appreciative crowd. For many the pinnacle of Linda's set was her cover of "Amazing Grace" which spawned a superb crowd sing-along. Following Linda Pierce was the first of two legends, the other later, but Rick Wakeman is a big enough name on his own. The legendary keyboard man, decked out in an atypical wizard's-style jacket complete with stars, started his set by telling us of the story behind his unfounded hit "Morning Has Broken" that Cat Stevens failed to mention Mr Wakeman upon. Obviously one of the least serious men in the business, Rick Wakeman can readily admit to his music being a bit of noise to create a love child that is somewhere in-between Frank Zappa, David Bowie and the Grateful Dead. With his accompanying band, Wakeman creates both instrumental and vocal music, his vocal music being expertly handled by Darren Wilson, his vocal highlight in the cover of "Eleanor Rigby", a version that despite the technological banter, is not a million miles away from The Beatles' original. Rick Wakeman is a supreme entertainer. It's a shame that his 'secular set' upset those expecting some upfront Gospel messages. Following Rick and before Cliff is a short set by tonight's compere Martin Nicholls, who along with his band Famous Five play four songs, including a great cover of Labi Siffre's "Something Inside So Strong". This makes a great break from Martin's earlier bad jokes, but great comedy persona. This crowd was not really here for anyone else but tonight's main act, and they do not get much bigger headliners than Sir Cliff. Noel Tredinnick returns with the All Souls Orchestra to kick off the set with an instrumental Cliff medley, featuring especially "We Don't Talk Anymore" which is followed by the announcement from compere Martin Nicholls of "Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Cliff Richard." Arriving on stage in typical unexpected clothing of a pink shirt and tie with leather trousers, Sir Cliff walks on stage with the opening bars of "From A Distance". This is apparently a year off for Cliff, his only appearances coming at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff but he has made the trip to this event as a special favour to Hearts On Fire, and the Cliff fans love it. Cliff works his way through the decades of hits of his own and covers, some of his own highlights being "Some People", "Move It" and an acapella/crowd sing-along to "Summer Holiday". What really impresses most people are his range of covers, an outstanding "Bright Eyes" and the more up to date "Everything I Do, I Do It For You". Cliff has worked his way in the past with a song from each decade, I would love to know what he would pick from the last seven months, I cannot imagine Cliff shouting "Bo Selecta" to anyone. An interview between Noel and Cliff soon takes place, where Cliff tells us of his year off that has included visits to Portugal, Barbados and Los Angeles for an impromptu show with Olivia Newton John. A few more hits go by before the necessary closer of "Millennium Prayer" which Cliff speaks about briefly following the media embargo that was loaded upon his last single, the "I cannot understand the opposition" was agreed upon throughout his loyal followers. The song does sound quite good live, the orchestra backing does the song no harm and joined by lighter-holding and arm-waving, lovely. Cliff's appearance resulted in the most supported in the history of the Hearts On Fire event, with a 7000 strong crowd. But as we were to learn after the event, Hearts On Fire managed to drop a heap more money and it will take a minor miracle to see another such fest. A great shame.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.