Cross Rhythms' teenage reporter Sarah Lawrence went to Somerset to catch a blessing and review the music at the long established youth event, SOUL SURVIVOR.

One Girl's Soul Survivor:  Sarah Lawrence Reports On The Music

In Spirit And In Truth was the theme for this year's Soul Survivor at the Royal Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallett, Somerset. I attended week A (9th to 13th August) and thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of this massive gathering of Christian young people. God was doing some terrific stuff for loads of people while the teaching was challenging, the worship times exhilarating and the evening events astounding. During the week I saw a number of bands perform in the spacious gigs venue, as well as attending the morning and evening meetings in the Big Tent.

Numinous (Day 1 - 9th August)
Performing at Soul Survivor was the second English gig for Northern Ireland band Numinous. They began with the dramatic "Destined To Fly", during which lead singer Andrew Briggs' gave an animated performance. This song was uplifting and talks powerfully about how God can make broken people fly. "Just Lighten Up" was performed with equal vigour. It began as a striking acoustic performance and then, as the other band members drifted back on to the stage and drums and electric guitar were added, another more dramatic element was added to the performance. These two numbers were fast paced but there were also some slower songs like "The Stillness". This was performed in candlelight and had a gentler tone that encouraged intimacy with God. The concert was concluded with the inspiring "Change The Atmosphere", a song that Numinous use regularly at pub gigs. Numinous are clearly talented musicians though the mixing was poor and their powerful lyrics could often not be heard above clashing cymbals.

Spoken Groove (Day 2 - 10th August)
Americans Peter Nevland and Paul Finley make up the superb acoustic duo known as Spoken Groove. Their dramatic set featured a mix of breathtaking solo performances and dynamic duets. Paul Finley played guitar spectacularly throughout the performance. His solo performance of "Never A Lake Of Fire" was magnificent and justly received a thunderous round of applause from those listening. Peter Nevland's performance was equally amazing as he recited lyrics at an impressive pace and with effective use of tone and dynamics to give humour to what were serious issues. He also gave an incredible solo performance of "Skrickawocka", a poem that dealt with the issue of peer pressure and how it affects us from a very early age in today's society. The song "Thrill Of The Moment" was about an experience Peter Nevland had with lust and society in general's impulsive nature. They performed it with passion and thoroughly challenged their audience. Overall, Spoken Groove put on a stunning show.

Rob Lacey Theatre Company - The Liberator (Day 3 - 11th August)
The Rob Lacey Theatre Company often uses music to assist their performance. The three actresses had beautiful voices which they used to great effect. In a scene set in the garden of Gethsemane they sang mournful harmonies to capture the sadness of the moment. The actresses also used their voices to bring mirth in their renditions of slightly altered, traditional Christmas carols. These they sang with humorous exaggeration, highlighting the witty lyrics and adding to the audience's amusement. It was a splendid performance and the use of music only enhanced it.

Superhero (Day 4 - 12th August)
Bagpipes played as Scottish band Superhero made their way onto the stage. The audience's anticipation was high as the brilliant "Stand Up" blasted from the speakers to begin the set. Tim Cheshire's vocals were stunning, the song's message challenging and the band's performance magnificent. "Don't Let This Day Escape" was another chilling number that was played superbly and included a little rap from Superhero's keyboard player giving it a different flavour. Both of these songs came from Superhero's most recent album 'Fake Lunar Landing' however there were also some pieces from their self-titled album. One such song was the blinding "Stars" which contained an incredible instrumental section that showed of the band's excellent musical abilities. They concluded their set with the short but sweet "All I Know" as an encore. The five members of Superhero put on an exquisite show and the balance of instruments was brilliant allowing the audience to grasp the full message of the lyrics.

The Best Of Bandstand (Day 5 - 13th August)
Each afternoon throughout the week campers were allowed to have a 20 minute slot in which to perform to passers by in the food court, or if in rained in Café Uno. On the final evening of Soul Survivor the week's best acts were invited to play in the gigs venue. The first three performers all had a similar mellow style and all three played guitar. First was Mica who performed three songs beautifully. Carle, who performed second, had an enchanting voice and performed another four songs. She was followed by Paul Dixon who had a clear voice and was equally talented on guitar. The final act was a hip-hop quartet made up of four enthusiastic and passionate rappers. All four acts deserved their place in The Best Of Bandstand and between them they put on an impressive show for what was a small gathering.

One Girl's Soul Survivor:  Sarah Lawrence Reports On The Music

Main Meetings
The worship sessions in the main meetings were invigorating and fully allowed those gathered to offer their praises to God. The week's worship leaders, Tim Hughes, Lex Buckley and Ben Cantelon, led with passion and sensitivity, not forcing anything and allowing the Holy Spirit to do what he wanted. All three are gifted musicians and Lex had a particularly rich and beautiful voice. They were backed by an equally talented band, singer and, at times, choir. The format of the worship team altered with each session, which meant that each meeting was fresh and different. On the final evening the worship session had an added twist, in the form of The 29th Chapter, who appeared on the platform and added verses of rap to some classic worship anthems giving them an innovative feel. The range of material used was extensive from jubilant songs of praise, such as Matt Redman's "Dancing Generation" and Tim Hughes' "Joy Is In This Place", to more intense worship songs, such as Chris Tomlin's "How Great Is Our God". There was also a variety of new material from all three worship leaders including "Through The Valley" and "Join With The Angels" from Lex Buckley's stunning debut album. The worship times were truly exciting and powerful. 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.