Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Yes, it's been quiet here.

Possibly because I've been somewhere noisy, and we were really tired when we got home.

So the big church day out came and went.

I've been tempted to write it up in witty fashion, but TBH that's not going to help anyone except me and my ego. The very best part of it was re-connecting with people who have either had weakened or severed connections with us, and I was very glad for that to happen. And it was good to spend time with other friends to, with whom relationships have not been difficult or complicated. If nothing else, that made the whole trip worthwhile and the music, hassle etc unimportant.

Other highlights:
Musically speaking Salvadore were great, combining rock and Latin music with a distinctly Santana-esque feel, though with more basic guitar work. They had a great feel, and although they were introduced as Spanish, they are actually from Austin, Texas. Ho hum.

I also enjoyed Newworldson for their musical diversity, and especially for the depth of flavour to their act. If they did a funk song, it was funky, blues was blue, rock rocked. This is unusual in a world of identikit bands that attempt to blend all flavours together, ending up with just a grey or brown goo. The one thing that didn't fit was trying to be a little prog and using a Kaoss pad or similar, which just sounded out of place.

Amy Grant appears to have been a universally admired and dominant figure in Christian music for the last 20+ years, except that I knew nothing about her but for one single (baby baby) that was in the UK charts in the early 90s. She had brought a big and experienced band with her, but was sweet and modest in the way she presented herself, and it made me warm to her. The songs were OK, doing best when kept simple and losing it when they became too busy and bass driven.

Another person I'd not seen before, though we sing a couple of his songs was Israel Houghton, and he injected a huge amount of energy into an act that sat between gig and worship. Like Amy Grant, his music worked best when it was kept simpler, and at one point where things became clever and jazzy Chris commented that it sounded like there were 2 bands playing separate things. Never the less, when he dominated it became a much more musical and involving experience, particularly when he was playing simple guitar lines that carried both tune and rhythm, and I was glad to have seen him.

We caught Rend Collective Experiment leading singing at a campfire late on Saturday night, and they seemed to be a church worship band who had simply recorded a few songs, rather than being a musical act that sang about God & stuff. Sadly we missed them on the main stage, but in a way I'm rather glad, because that might have spoiled my illusions. Musically they seem to be a mostly acoustic Irish folk group, but I don't hold that against them too much.

And finally Matt Redman, who everyone knows so well. Musically the band were very competent but took no risks, meaning that they were a pleasant and un-intrusive backing sound, but not exciting or with enormous depth of feeling. However he was, for me, the only act that pushed things into worship and seemed to interact with the crowd in that way. Certainly there was an expectation in the crowd that this would happen too, and that may have also played a big part, but there was clearly a difference in the way he interacted with everyone and seemed to connect with the Holy Spirit AND the people.

Food was expensive if one ate out (what we'd planned, rather than cook) and if we do go again then we'll definitely cook too. However the Thai style take away was both excellent and good value, and we enjoyed eating from there very much.

So there y'go - my summary based on the thumper principle.

We were grateful to Dr. Nicky for organising and coordinating everyone who went, for helping select the best spot to camp on the site and for showing us where the pool was in Steyning.

The grounds of Wiston house are extensive (and rather lovely) and on the other side of the mansion house from the meadows with the main stage & campsite was a large sheltered garden running down the hillside in tiers. At the bottom was a stage area and beside it a marquee with food and another stage.

On the outdoor stage we heard Dave Bilborough going through his back catalogue in a rather gentle Irish-folk kind of way. It was gentle nostalgia, but it also made me rather sad that songs which were once cutting edge worship material were being harmlessly re-presented. Dave Markee was playing bass for him, but TBH we couldn't hear much bass at all. What started out as "do you remember when we used to sing this" turned to sadness and frustration at the pleasant quaintness of it all, as though our earlier worship experience, when we were all so radical and on fire had just been reduced to a few simple, easy tunes played for our 'greater listening pleasure'.

In the marquee we heard The Kings Chamber Orchestra playing, and they were really very good on several levels. As much as anything, I appreciated them for their playing of worship that flowed in the Spirit, and wasn't simply restricted to 'joining the dots'. And they didn't take themselves too seriously either.

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