...and, much like last year, i didn't really do much while we were there. But anyway, what did we see...
It's not often the words "hard-rock" and "St Albans" appear in the same sentence! We've seen these guys twice this summer and they do indeed rock. Not only that, but they do it with a Lap Steel. Oh yes.
I missed most of this gig due to my not wanting to queue for an hour outside the venue, choosing to have a cuppa with Martin instead. I caught the last few things he played and the queueing would definitely have been worth it (and yeah, I probably knew that before). The saxophone just sings for him. Now I don't usually like the kind of jazz that results in super-fast finger-widdling un-transcribable solos, some of you have heard what I call that stuff. But Courtney Pine did it so fluently, so musically that you couldn't not like it.
The New Standard
The latest incarnation of all things Steve Lawson - solo bass with a generous sprinkling of vocal loveliness from Julie McKee. I don't think we heard this gig as best we could have, standing right at the back by the bar, behind the speakers and where more people were talking than listening. Great gig anyway - 80s covers as you've never heard them before!
The king of pop finally deigned to grace Greenbelt with his presence. Lucky us. I was quite stubbornly anti-Bedingfield all weekend and did try to find something else to go to instead but the programme offered few alternatives. OK, OK, I admit, he's actually quite good. He can sing, he's a great showman and his songs are... listenable. Still struggle with the humungous ego and accompanying "God's gift" attitude and his ambiguous love songs that you think are about a woman until he starts singing "Jesus" instead.
We took advantage of the large crowd at the communion and sneaked off to the queue-less toilets - it's a rarity to find a nice loo without a long queue of people during the festival. Teeth cleaned, hair slightly tamer, we ventured back towards the crowd. The Greenbelt communion is a wonderful moment in the weekend - 18,000 people sharing bread and wine, finding a common ground.
The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain
These guys are hilarious! 7 adults on a stage playing ridiculously small guitars and singing. Their set list includes some covers that work surprisingly well for ukelele and the whole thing is pure entertainment from beginning to end. At least I think it is... I didn't stay to the end!
The Greenbelt Festival Orchestra
Our attempts to pack the tent away on Monday morning were foiled by timely torrential rain so we headed up to the other end of the festival site for the orchestra rehearsal, both feeling a little out of our depth. Only one piece this year (Mozart's Requiem) Dan was playing the alto trombone part (very high) and I had been entrusted with first bassoon and as the time approached we were both experiencing a growing awareness of our lack of practice and impending inability to play the parts. After an hour's rehearsal, we were met by the lovely Kim and Steve, carrying steaming bowls full of bangers and mash - enough to make anyone feel better! In the end, it wasn't that bad. To a certain extent, playing an instrument is like riding a bike, you never fully forget how - tuning and agility do take a bit of a turn for the worse and our lips were struggling to hold out. Fortunately for me, my fellow bassoonist wasn't too far ahead of me, having not played for 6 years until recently and I discovered during the rehearsal that the 2nd bassoon part is even more evil than the 1st! It wasn't as bad as I had feared - less bluffing than there could have been.
The tent finally submitted to our second packing attempt so we had time to enjoy another Lawson offering before the drive home. I heard the first of three sections of this gig and it lived up to all expectations. I love Steve's solo stuff - it's music to lie on the floor and get lost in and it's way better live than recorded. Steve's funny too so the in-between bits are as entertaining as the music! By all accounts, the remaining two thirds of the gig (The New Standard and The Recycle Collective) were good too but the pull of the silversmithing tent was just too great, sorry Steve! Hopefully we'll be able to make it down to London for one of the Recycle Collective gigs in the not too distant future...
A couple of years ago, I discovered that the bead tent at Greenbelt was more than just a bead shop. That was my first taste of silversmithing and I came away having made Dan a new wedding ring and discovered a new hobby for myself. Other than talking about it, I've not actually done any since but I did enjoy going back and getting more creative. This year I made another ring, tried enamelling and made a silver rat!
Add a few teas in the Tiny Tea Tent (this year's new tea: Sweet Chilli Mexican Spice), some time catching up with old friends, a few games back at the tent and a bit of time in the Pulse looking for something to do next summer and that was Greenbelt. It's a pitifully small list of things we saw and flicking through the official photos I'm aware just how much we missed. Maybe if I paid for my ticket I'd make more of an effort?