My biggest musical highlight this year was Courtney Pine. That man is awesome! We also managed to almost be in the front row in Centaur, and almost in the middle, which meant that for large parts of his show it felt like he was playing just for us. See what I mean? :-
At one point, as well as the soprano and tenor saxes, he played a silver electronic-y sort of thing shaped like a sax and using sax fingering which (so I’m told) hooked up to a synth, which meant that it had the most amazing range (the clarinet has a range of nearly 4 octaves which for a woodwind instrument is pretty impressive, but this thing had high and low notes far in excess of that). It also had a beautiful clear sound, and he played a modern reworking of a Thelonius Monk tune (I think it was called “Around Midnight” or something like that) which was so beautiful I just wanted to cry.
The other highlight had to be the utterly bonkers Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain. I probably shouldn’t confess this, but I took a couple of little surreptitious videos of them on my camera – mostly I just have snatches of songs, but got almost all (apart from the beginning) of their wonderful encore, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Sadly I wasn’t able to get the utterly surreal “Theme from Shaft”, which was just superb and probably the highlight of their set for me, although a ukeleled “Yes Sir I can Boogie”, “Life on Mars” and “Slave to the Rhythm” (Grace Jones! On the ukelele!) were also something else (to put it mildly). Here’s a not very good picture of them:
I also saw – and enjoyed – King Creosote, a Scottish band who are plugged quite a lot up here but who I’d never got round to hearing before. That’s also sorted out a birthday present dilemma – a friend of mine (who never reads this) (I hope) would really like them so I shall sort out getting a CD of theirs for him.
I also renewed the classical highlight from a couple of years ago, when I’d sat and watched the Festival Orchestra and Scratch Choir do Faure’s Requiem with iGeek from the Ship. We’d both enjoyed that very much, so this year, along with a few others, listened to them do the Mozart Requiem which is one of my favourites (it also reminds me of Amadeus, which is one of my favourite films).
As predicted, I managed to miss Cara Dillon because I was in the shower queue. I had thought I’d have time to do both, but having been in the queue nearly an hour already when her set started, I just couldn’t bring myself to leave it. That queue was unbelievably slow – I was half expecting to be a cobweb-covered skeleton by the time I was actually able to get my tickets. It did seem to bring out something of the Blitz spirit in people queueing though, and it was nice to be unexpectedly be behind some Scottish shipmates I’d not seen for a while. And hooray for the YMCA workers who dished out umbrellas.
Talks-wise I (yet again) hardly got to anything. I did see Dave Tomlinson, who is always good, though as I’d not slept very well the night before (woke up at 5am! For no good reason!) by the time he was mid-way through his talk (on Psalm 23) I was nodding off, even though he was very good. I just couldn’t help myself.
Worship-wise, it sounds like having a shower during communion wasn’t such a great idea this year. I’d heard so many moans about last year’s communion service that I’d felt really smug that I’d booked a shower at that time, but this year as I came out of the shower and made my way back to our camping area I passed by the main stage and must admit it sounded so good I did regret not going. I mentioned previously that the only worship I’d managed to get to was Rev Gerald, which was (obviously) a time full of anointment and ministration, but I did feel the need to try to get to something vaguely seriously worshippy, and was going to go to a contemplative worship thingy just after I blogged. I did go …. unfortunately it turns out that it wasn’t happening, and was a misprint which wasn’t supposed to have been included on the programme, so I ended up in the Organic Beer Tent instead. I really will do more worshippy stuff next year. Honestly. (I’m such a great Christian)
Like last year I also did a couple of shifts on the Angels desk – the Angels are the people who support Greenbelt with regular financial giving, and I enjoyed my time talking to festival-goers and hopefully signing a few people up. It wasn’t as manic as last year – I remember being hoarse after every shift last year, but it seemed much quieter this year, although apparently they signed up as many new Angels this year as last, so that’s good.
And last but not least, the wibmeet – wine (lots thereof), crisps (lots thereof), wonderful people (lots thereof). Roll on next year – as I mentioned to Dave and Maddie I’m really hopeful that I will make it to GB07 despite officially being in Moldova then but just flying over for the festival before flying back for my last month of fieldwork. So flapjacks probably won’t happen next year either, as the tupperware is more than a bit on the big side for my luggage, but I’d be really disappointed to miss it.
So overall verdict: much enjoyed, fantastic, will do it again 🙂