Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, and Royksopp are amongst the highlights of day two at Greenbelt

Greenbelt Festival 2009 review

published: Tue 8th Sep 2009

Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

Friday 28th to Monday 31st August 2009
Prestbury, Cheltenham, England MAP
£83; Concs £55; 13-17 years £46; 4-12 yr olds £42; family ticket £215
last updated: Mon 15th Jun 2009

Friday night was flippin' freezin' so no sleep for me, even fully clothed in a 3-season sleeping bag and woolly hat. So I'm up in time to see Jim Jones in the Underground venue at 10.30. The Underground is situated in the one of the racecourse buildings and holds about 500 people. It traditionally hosts bands and edgier stuff than the other venues so has been appropriated by youngsters in previous years. Greenbelt has made huge efforts in encouraging young people to the festival and they have specific youth events throughout the weekend and the youngsters get their own version of the programme. Jim Jones was actually due to play the Performance Café yesterday but was stuck in traffic and missed his slot so his band are standing in for Something For Sophie who were unable to appear today. It's probably not what the kids were expecting but is a good, mellow start to the day.

Tamsin Omond
Outside the racecourse building, in the grandstand area, Tamsin Omond is giving a seminar on What Would Jesus Do? related to climate science and the need for activism. Omond is the founder of Climate Rush, also a member of Plane Stupid and has been involved in some high profile environmental protests. Gene Robinson, the bishop from New Hampshire in USA, who caused controversy when he was ordained six years ago simply because he was openly gay, is holding a seminar in Centaur, which is packed out. It's entitled 'Keeping Your Cool in the Eye of the Storm' – the most disturbing part to listen to is about the death threats he received and that he and his family had to wear bullet proof vests for his consecration as a bishop. His message is "sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms his child."

The Fancy Toys
That's enough food for thought, back to the music. I catch a few songs from The Fancy Toys over in Performance Café who have been recommended to me and they don't disappoint. A lively two piece, James Duncan and Mickaël Téo, with interesting instruments – a cajón (that percussion box thing), megaphone, ukulele, glockenspiel, shoe-tambo (a tambourine that fits on the foot) and during one song, Duncan stands behind Téo to pound his chest with his hands. They have brilliant interaction between themselves and with the crowd. The lyrics are very funny – 'For You & Me' stands out as they direct some of the lines at the audience, to much amusement.

around the festival site (Saturday)
A short walk across to the new Big Top to see one of my personal favourites, Foy Vance, making his first Greenbelt appearance. Vance has a superb voice and uses that with his guitar, bowed guitar and looping station to produce emotional and powerful songs. Highlights are 'Shed a Little Light', 'Gabriel and the Vagabond', and covers of Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' and 'One of Us', made famous by Joan Osborne. He earns a well deserved standing ovation. One EskimO follow and I think the crowd are a bit disappointed as there is no sign of the cute cartoons that we'd been promised to accompany their music, which meant that lots of the parents with kids walked out after a little while. The music's a bit samey, but the vocals are warm, the singer holds the mic in one hand and the stand in the other and bounces to every song, including 'He Called Me Baby' and the gentle 'Astronauts'.

Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
My first visit to the mainstage is for Sway, a British hip-hop artist, whose debut album was Mercury Music Prize nominated in 2006. I only hear a couple of songs and am not overly impressed with 'Say It Twice' which he explained was about his time in the US when he had to repeat everything twice for the Americans. Over in the Performance Café Miriam Jones has a pretty voice but the songs sound mostly downbeat and melancholic. Back to mainstage for what I'm sure will be one of the highlights of the weekend, Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, two beardy men mixing funky electronic beats with clever spoken word. They play an excellent set which includes 'Fixed' with the line about "hip hop is art", and a new song about living in Britain and how that can be a positive and negative thing, as well as their two best known tracks 'Thou Shalt Always Kill' and 'Letter From God To Man'.

I nip over to the Performance Café to see a bit of Calamateur aka Andrew Howie, who's accompanied by a keyboardist. He plays tracks from his latest album which is a covers compilation including 'Jesus' Hands' by American Music Club.

Royksopp
Royksoppp are headlining mainstage tonight – electronica's not my thing but the crowd loves it and they put on an amazing show with fantastic lighting, and outlandish costumes. It’s quite a spectacle, especially as I'm stood near SamSam Bubble Man and am transfixed by the huge, pretty bubbles that he and his friends are creating that gently float across the audience in front of mainstage, reflecting the lights and rainbow colours, it perfectly complements the dancey, trancey sounds.

Music at Last Orders tonight includes the excellent and very playful Jim Jones, The Fancy Toys who cannot fail to make everyone smile, Iain Archer, and Foreign Slippers. Interviewees are Nadia Bolz-Weber, a former stand up comedian, now a pastor in Denver, and author of a book about watching 24 hours of Christian TV (eugh!), Paul Govan who is a contributor to the GeekDad website, and Sami Awad, a Palestinian who founded the Holy Land Trust which works towards finding peace and healing for Palestinians and Israelis.
review by: Helen OSullivan

photos by: Helen OSullivan

Friday 28th to Monday 31st August 2009
Prestbury, Cheltenham, England MAP
£83; Concs £55; 13-17 years £46; 4-12 yr olds £42; family ticket £215
last updated: Mon 15th Jun 2009


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