Greenbelt … part the second
The dust has settled, feedback absorbed and sleep (mostly) caught up on, so I finally feel ready to comment on our third Greenbelt experience.
We had an earlier start time than last year (10:00pm) which was a good thing in itself, but put us up against Michael Franti and Spearhead on mainstage, which gave me some concerns about how our attendance would hold up. I needn’t have worried.
When the doors opened at 10, people poured into the venue and judging by the fact that 30 cups of wine and plates of bread were handed out to the “congregation”, we would roughly estimate attendance of between 220 and 250 people. It also appears from comments I have heard from elsewhere that there were even people turned away as the venue was full. I have no idea if that is true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.
The venue was packed with people hungry to worship, perhaps not surprising for the first day of the festival, which means that this (admittedly kick-ass) event lead in Underground by an unknown band from some Northern backwater can draw a big and enthusiastic crowd even when “competing” against a big-name act on mainstage.
Unfortunately, in spite of the hard work of the technical crew, the gremlins struck again, as they did last year, in the form of a fault that the team just couldn’t isolate.
With a really tight changeover time (we had initially been given 10 minutes to be ready to start once our predecessors on stage (Electralyte – a great band BTW) had completed their set, informally extended to 20 by agreement with the venue) we eventually chose to begin 15 minutes late as the crowd was beginning to get restless. With no chance for a line check and chunks of the band inaudible, it lessened the impact of our Pinball Wizard intro since no one could hear the acoustic guitar, which had been working fine a few moments earlier but had suddenly disappeared courtesy of the aforementioned fault.
Fortunately, the first worship song of the event was so well known it could carry itself while the sound team had the opportunity to get the fault ironed out as best they could.
Aside … it is hard to overestimate the hard work put in by the sound and lighting crew in putting on so many bands and events within the space of a few days, and I would like to publically thank them for their efforts on our behalf in getting us up and running the way they did.
So what of the event itself? Brilliant. Once we hit our stride, and had blown away the frustration of our delayed start I think we nailed it pretty well. Could have flowed better, but overall pretty good. A friend of mine, a trainee Church of England minister no less, described it as a “Cracking Service”, and it even got a mention on Aled Jones’ radio 2 show on 24 August, when a listener e-mailed in to describe the RE (or Rock Mass as they called it) as “Awesome” and their “highlight” of the festival.
Having lead RE2 a couple of times now, it is clear that this one rocks. It has that certain, undefinable something (X-Factor if you like) that just really makes it come alive, and in particular the choice of Blur’s Song 2 (Woo-Hoo) for the Eucharistic Prayer is proving to be an inspired one … divinely inspired I have no doubt.
Overall, a brilliant, spirit-led evening where the presence of God was definitely tangible through the whole thing, and a room full of (mostly young) people felt able to really let themselves go in worship of our Lord and Saviour. And John and I didn’t even get lost walking back to the tents this year!
We are now looking for more opportunities to lead this particular version of the RE, and there is a good chance we may be invited back for a third time to lead another (or something similar) at GB09. God continues to bless us as a band through these events, and He really seems to be making an impact on those who attend them as well.
Ultimately, that is what really matters.
Songs (or bits of songs) used: Pinball Wizard (Townsend), He Has Risen (Richards), Caroline (Rossi/Young), I Will Worship (Ruis), Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns ‘n’ Roses), Blessed Be Your Name (Redman), Charcoal Skies (Cooper), All Right Now (Fraser/Rodgers), We Believe (Kendrick), Holy Is The Lord (Tomlin), Mighty To Save (Fielding/Morgan), Song 2 (Blur), Behind And Before (Cooper), Shout To The Lord (Zschech), Parisian Walkways (Moore), Revival (Mark)