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Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2007

published: Tue 14th Aug 2007

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th August 2007
Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9EL, England MAP
£30 for Friday or Sunday, Saturday £28
last updated: Thu 29th Mar 2007

The magnificent grounds of Glastonbury Abbey provide a great backdrop for the quality artists appearing there this year. The Extravaganza weekend is a more civilised series of outdoor picnic concerts set to counter the June mayhem of the infamous Glastonbury festival.

Set in beautiful surroundings, we arrived just in time to see Corinne Bailey Rae take to the stage, in the warm, sultry evening. Her beautiful soulful voice, sounded out across a very peaceful audience. She caught everyone’s attention, singing with her hands on her hips, or arms in the air, or playing guitar. Many of these were her own songs, and others, if not entirely her own were co-written or original tracks written by her contemporaries, the only exception I recognised being a surprising rendition of Led Zeppelin’s, ‘Since I’ve been loving you’.

Corinne Bailey Rae seems to love performing, really getting into her music and engaging the audience with her sweet innocent, friendly smile. Wearing a simple white lacy dress which showed off nothing but her slim figure, you could not help but be drawn in by her disarming presence. She sang all the songs we know, and which have been plugged on the radio so much lately, such as ‘Just Like A Star’, ‘Put Your Record On’, and ‘I’d like to’, plus a song written by Cara Robinson called ‘No Love Child’ and finishing with ‘Season change’ for her well-deserved encore.

Corinne Bailey Rae

She has been likened to jazz legend, Billey Holiday, and indeed she does have a timelessness about her but it is the sheer simplicity of her songs and style which impressed me and her rapport with the audience which seemed so fresh, and so joyous.

In contrast, Van Morrison hasn’t really moved on in attitude to the man who played with his back to the audience in Birmingham many years ago. However, although arrogant, you can’t fault his talent. After a couple of opening tracks I didn’t recognise, he played, ‘Have I told you lately...’ in a upbeat jazz style with lots of sax and plenty of input from his backing band including a woman playing some strange acoustic guitar-like instrument held horizontally rather than against herself.

I sensed a little tension between himself and his band. Sometimes he appeared to be trying to lead them seamlessly (not) into the next track; and he never introduced the songs, he just appeared to expect the audience to know them all (quite possibly, most of us did). There was frequently a change of riff, as though he had directed his lead, "Skiffle!" or, "Country, boy!" which didn’t make for the smooth transition he might have been hoping for, regardless of his skill with guitar, saxophone, piano and harmonica. This was a concert which focused much more on country dixie than the soulful blues of his early albums.

Van Morrison

Tracks with which I was familiar were less easy to recognise when introduced in a different key or rhythm. ‘Moondance’ gave his backing band the chance to show off their skills briefly but it was much faster than the version I am used to. After ending on ‘Tupelo Honey’, we were allowed two songs for the encore (a rare treat) with a quick ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, on which he seemed to start off a bit shakily – maybe the mike wasn’t on – followed by a powerful version of ‘Gloria’ – which for all his arrogance, made a magnificent end to the evening’s music (although this may have been because his backing band looked visibly relieved to see him leave the stage as they closed the set).

The organisers put on a grand show of fireworks to end the evening and a final visit to the ladies loos doubly impressed me as they were the cleaniest, pleasantest loos I have ever had the pleasure to visit at any festival. They even had their own cleaners (plus a plentiful supply of toilet roll, soap, and paper towels)! I only wish it was possible for these luxury loos to be adopted at every outdoor event I attend!
review by: Jane Jarvis

photos by: Jane Jarvis

Friday 10th to Sunday 12th August 2007
Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9EL, England MAP
£30 for Friday or Sunday, Saturday £28
last updated: Thu 29th Mar 2007


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