Greenbelt Day #1: Some jazz, a rainbow, a fire alarm and some bunnies…

I wish the sun would make up its mind; I can’t keep putting this hoodie on and taking it off immediately afterwards…

It’s nearly noon. A shower’s been had; a toothbrush has accidentally been dropped down the gents’ loo; a replacement for said toothbrush has been found (thank God for aeroplane freebies); breakfast has been had, and there are still a couple of hours to spare before some of the items I want to see on today’s schedule begin. A good time, then, to look back on yesterday.

I arrived on site just after midday, and the happy reunions started almost immediately. I caught up with the team running the Press office (another happy reunion), and was halfway through updating this blog when the fire alarm went off. Does everyone assume it’s just a test when that happens? The whole Grandstand area was evacuated and the ringing went on for some time; thankfully there wasn’t a fire (or at least, nothing noticeable was burning) and we were eventually let back in – only for the thing to go off again a few hours later!

Friday night was hip hop & jazz night on the mainstage. thebandwithnoname kicked things off, followed by Ugly Duckling (who sadly I missed, as I was busy catching up with another friend, sorting out a few work-related things and searching for something to eat). It was while Ugly Duckling were on stage that nature decided to upstage not only them but every other band who happened to be playing on Friday. “Look!” “Up there!” “Check out that rainbow!”

"There's a ribbon in the sky..."

It was a sight. Starting not far from mainstage, the enormous Technicolour arch spanned Cheltenham Racecourse all the way past the Grandstand. Sadly, my attempt at photographing the whole rainbow (my first attempt at using the panoramic feature on my new camera) resulted in a montage of three slightly off-kilter views of the same place!

Meanwhile, back on the mainstage, Ty delivered a storming set. His audience wasn’t the biggest (even given that he was a support act, there could have been more people); nevertheless, he had a commanding stage presence and the audience lapped it up. Sharlene Hector (who played a solo set here last year) and Heidi Vogel did a sterling job on backing vocals. It was also good to see him bring on Vula (who also did a solo gig here last year) for a guest slot.

Courtney Pine rounded up the night’s mainstage programme with a high-energy set which, in true Courtney fashion, married jazz with reggae, drum & bass, South African township jive and a few other things (I’m sure I heard some salsa and even some klezmer in there somewhere!). On guitar was Cameron Pierre, whose birthday it just happened to be (I’ve got a couple of tracks from his Pad Up! album in amongst my selection of tunes for this evening’s DJ set. Who knows, I might play one!).

Later on, I enjoyed some mellow acoustic music in the Performance Cafe, where Sugarfoot (formerly Brownmusic) were playing. They were one twin short (Loretta couldn’t come, so Natasha bravely held the fort), but still sounded as beautiful as ever. I missed Zic Zazou earlier on, but they played one tune for us during Last Orders (most creative use of a pile of old bottles I’ve ever come across!), along with some comedy from the always-good-value-for-money Jude Simpson and a video report from Greenbelt’s new sister festival, Bunnybelt.

Well, that was yesterday. I have a couple of panel discussions to pop into today; Shed Seven are on later tonight – and I’ve got my DJ set to prepare for, of course…


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