just peace is the theme of Greenbelt on Sunday

Greenbelt Festival 2010 review

By Helen OSullivan | Published: Fri 3rd Sep 2010

Jim Jones

Friday 27th to Monday 30th August 2010
Prestbury, Cheltenham, England MAP
£99; Concs £66; 11-17 years £55; 4-10 yr olds £50; family ticket £259
Last updated: Thu 2nd Sep 2010

The main event on Sunday is the morning communion service. All other activities across site are put on hold for the duration and most festival-goers choose to attend this. As well as following the theme of looking sideways, the focus, as last year, is on Greenbelt's Just Peace campaign to raise awareness of the problems in Palestine. The service is exactly an hour long and incorporates confetti cannons during one of the hymns, communion of bread and wine shared in small groups, a talk and readings with audience participation. Thankfully, the rain holds off until the end. (We hear later that the Sunday service raised £43,000, which goes to projects in the UK and overseas, a diverse range from dance lessons for the visually impaired to football for street children.)

around the festival site (Sunday)
Continuing the theme of Just Peace, Clare Short, the MP who memorably resigned over the government's decision to go to war with Iraq (for which she gets a huge round of applause from those assembled in the grandstand) is giving a short talk, and then a questions and answers session on lobbying parliament on the Israel/Palestine issue. Her talk is direct, clear and honest with interesting facts and tips. Short is chuffed that Greenbelt has taken this issue on and encourages us to treat the problem in the same way as apartheid in South Africa– that is, it's not enough to just write polite letters to MPs but we need to engage in peaceful direct actions, marches, boycotts of Israeli goods etc. She also mentions a campaign against Veolia, the transport branch related to the waste management company, which is involved in building a rail system to take Israelis in to illegal settlements.

Over to the Big Top, which holds about 1000 people, to queue for The Rising, a singer-songwriter showcase, hosted by Martyn Joseph. This is always an entertaining event and the guests today are Hannah Atkins, Michael McDermott and Peter Bruntnell – I once bought one of his CDs for my dad as it had a nice picture of a Spitfire on the front! They each play a couple of songs and Joseph interviews them about the songwriting process. The best bit is Joseph himself playing a Springsteen song 'One Step Up' which the others join in with and Joseph explains the structure of the song and the lyrical story but points out that it's only three chords all the way through, so Springsteen was either lazy or a genius.

Impact (dance)
I stop by 'The Tank', housed in the ground floor of the grandstand, for a cup of tea – they give out proper mugs of tea which are returned later. The Tank also provides a mobile phone charging service and internet access. The mug of tea accompanies me to the Centaur queue for Impact Dance: Xtreme Circumstance. This is an unfamiliar genre to me of hip hop theatre and features 12 FFIs, which stands for Fully Functioning Individuals. They're all amazing dancers and put on an excellent display of solos, duets and group dances, each with a storyline. There's even a bit of audience participation and we all stand up to do a bit of strutting, arm movements and clapping. Then from hip hop to Bollywood – there's an open-air dance workshop going on in the arena which has already started and looks like great fun.

I head over to the Big Top but can't get in to Mock The Weekend with Milton Jones, it's just way too popular and people have been queuing for ages. So I take in another seminar at the grandstand, Dave Andrews explaining the beatitudes and relating these "rules for living" to social justice campaigns in the modern world.

Peter Bruntnell is playing with his band in the Performance Café, followed by Jim Jones who is backed by Bruntnell on bass and another couple of members of his band. Most of the songs are from Jones' Americana-tinged new album 'Daylight and Stars'. There's a big crowd for The Fancy Toys
Nikko Fir
I am very lucky to have spotted that Nikko Fir are playing an intimate gig in the Northern Lights tent next door which was arranged just three weeks ago. There's only a small crowd to see them and most of these appear to be friends of the band who sing or play, so some of them lend a hand on the songs. They play a couple of their own songs along with some covers, a very rough version of Toto's 'Africa', 'Roots' by Show of Hands, Del Amitri's 'Nothing Ever Happens', and The Decembrists' 'Eli the Barrow Boy'. We finger-clicked, clapped and sang along with most of the songs and were disappointed when it finished at the curfew time of 11 pm.

Milton Jones
Last Orders in the Centaur is full to capacity for the first time ever! So only the most patient of those left outside are able to get in once a few punters decide to leave. Happily I haven't missed any of the bits I really wanted to see – the usual Folk On spoof folk songs, cartoons from Dave Walker, a video clip of spoof-festival, BunnyBelt, and a jaunty song from The Fancy Toys. There's also a poem from Harry Baker, who has been crowned Greenbelt Slam Champion 2010 – 'The Scientist and the Bumblebee', a very clever poem with a message (science proved that bees can't fly due to bodyweight versus size of wings, so just 'cos it's proven, doesn't mean it's true). Milton Jones entertains us with some brilliant one-liners such as he was out driving when he spotted a "dead baby ghost", pause for us to consider this, then "on second thoughts, perhaps it was just a hankie". The author and speaker, Mark Yaconelli, is interviewed – he clearly can't do a straight interview and last year had claimed he was an atheist, this year he wants to liberate men by taking his top off! The hosts have a hard time getting him to talk about his Greenbelt seminars but the crowd are entertained.
review by: Helen OSullivan

photos by: Helen OSullivan

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