Here is part two of Kevin Button's review of the Big Church Day Out festival.
(With thanks to Miles Green (right), Maresa Smith (below) and BCDO for the photos)
The Big Church Day Out is based in the grounds of Wiston House, Surrey, UK and features a main stage, a smaller illuminate stage and new for this year, an acoustic stage and a Kingdom Come Worship Tent.
Whereas in the first day I spent most of my time at the main stage, for the second I moved around a little bit more. So here is day two:
Yes! What a great way to start the second day! One of my favourite bands, coming to the UK for their first time here on the main stage at BCDO.
From the start, their sound hit the field in full force. Their Musicality was on point and the display of merging of genres including stranger sub-genres such as 'math rock' was inspirational to say the least.
Led by Chad Gardner's strong, convicting voice, the band smashed through a non stop set full of creativity which included popular songs such as Seek Your Kingdom, Defender and Felix Culpa whilst also playing completely reimagined hymns such as In Christ Alone and Come Thou Fount.
There was Brass (again), heavy guitars and a string quartet and it worked! There was also that one guy who is a multi instrumentalist, switching it up every song, one minute on keys, the next on flute.
I also really liked the devised new intro for Felix culpa which sounded almost jazz-live lounge before the original intro came storming in!
Since the string quartet were hired in, there must of been a lot of effort to learn the bands songs which is a shame considering it was a struggle to always hear them but I am sure what they were playing sounded great! Also I felt where the grit of the songs come across on the album quite well, live occasionally they didn't quite hit their full potential, partly I think due to Chad's rhythm guitar work being way too behind the mix. However overall a really solid performance and a great turn out for the bands first trip to the UK. We hope to seem them again soon.
London Community Gospel Choir
Just as I was finishing eating my scone and catching up with a friend, there was an adjustment in the sound coming from the tea tent stage. I got up to take a look and most certainly there was change of pace as now men and women of all ages were giving some awesome dance moves to the happiest gospel Choir so far this weekend! The choir in fact was so big that I couldn't see the band behind them. I stayed for a couple of numbers which included a mashup of Give you praise/ain't nobody. A sight to behold for sure!
As great as the London Community Gospel Choir was, I wasn't going to miss BCDO regulars Newworldson!
Straight from the start, the Energy was alive! It was nice to see the line up we have got used to once again appearing complete with a full horn section and guitarist Leroy Emmanuel who is always a BCDO favourite.
Sure it was a similar set to what we've seen before with many similar performance techniques but does it make it any less entertaining? Not one bit!
As usual Newworldson were tight together yet not afraid to improvise and go off the wall and when they did, it was all the more exciting! If you have never heard of these before, I highly recommend looking up some live videos, they are unbelievable! I couldn't help but notice underneath all the frantic performing, they actually sound great, they carry a real authentic American soul/blues sound, even the tone of the drums in how they snap across the field carries that real authentic feel.
Also if the Community choir get the award for Happiest Choir then Newworldson get the award for the happiest brass section. It is an absolute joy to watch them perform. This joy met with some wonderful harmless onstage banter between band members, was very humorous indeed.
Just when people thought they had seen it all, along comes Joel Parisien and his incredible Beat boxing techniques as he mimics drum beats and bass patterns before conducting the band to follow.
'Old Time Religion' had to be one of my favourite moments within the hour for the song just sounded grander than usual, which included an extended guitar solo from the man himself.
Just to show off further, Joel suddenly Mimics his voice to sound like a radio and projects "ppssssttt, calling all agents of the lamb" before they kicked in with 'Working man', a possible live debut at BCDO, definitely a strong song in the set.
The minute Leroy put his guitar down and stepped forward, people knew what was coming. Oh yes, Spoon solo! That's right, in the middle of the song, Leroy grabs his mic stand and about four spoons and takes us back a few years as he solos a captivating rhythmic solo along with the band.
Ok, surely now was the time to take a breather? Indeed it was, for now it was time to split the crowd into a three part harmony choir for the beautiful 'There Is A Way'.
Before the end we were treated to some songs which I wasn't familiar with which excites me for a possible new album which will be the bands first for four whole years! This song in particular very energetic and relied much on Leroy's funky guitar playing, it also included an extended Saxophone solo!
After the sheer brilliance of the sax, Joel sounded the train and without warning, the drums kicked in for fan favourite 'Salvation Station'. The energy was in full motion once again as Newworldson were nearing the end of their set but not without an incredible drum solo by Mark Rogers. He kept the pace of the song going the whole time and amazingly whereas a drum solo is known to turn people away, everyone here was fully engaged and loving it! On top of this, a massive Conga line around the front of the field was started and it grew larger and larger. Even a separate one started on stage which included some of the actual band members and Pete Greig himself.
Just as well thought it was over, the band without stopping switched into 'Jamaican praise Medley" which saw thousands of people on their feet doing their best dance to an incredibly joyful sound. What struck me was Marks inspiring independence which continued in this song, pulling off some outstanding Jamaican sounds while his feet kept the pace with a samba groove.
Just to put the cherry on top, right at the end of this medley the language changed, and to the right of where I was within the crowd was a family of people that clearly knew the language very well and they responded with so much joy and passion. A beautiful end to a fantastic energetic set.
Next up was the first and only act I got to see on the Illuminate stage, rock band 'Verra Cruz' who brought the riffs and more riffs and even more riffs. Considering it was their comeback tour, there wasn't much of the crowd but that didn't stop the band led by Marc James from rocking out to popular songs such as 'Rise, Not In The Fire, Guns in The Distance and Put The Weapon Down' the latter which featured Marcs classic slide guitar sound. It was loud, so loud that Marc actually broke his amplifier so he had to use a backup! It was however great to see Marc so comfortable in his element as a front man of a rock band.
The set attracted a mixture of old and young in the audience, and rock sounding as raw as this is a rarity at BCDO and is something the younger generation of today don't seem to be behind so much as they do the Guvna B's or the LZ7's both who drew bigger crowds at the festival. However you knew with the right crowd, this band would be a force hard to stop; they certainly gave their all, Marc especially as he was threw his guitar around his head and ordered his amp to provide him with some noisy feedback. It was refreshing to see something different at the festival, lets hope this opens up the door for some more rock bands to make their mark at BCDO!
Next up was Crowder back on the main stage, led of course by David Crowder himself who has kept a name for himself since his other band 'The David Crowder Band' disbanded. Confusing I know.....so many Crowders.
Beginning with a couple of bluegrass numbers before carrying on into a moving rendition of 'Heres My Heart', Crowders voice soars across the field as he leads his band through some new but strong material. Complete with multiple guitars and banjos yet synthesisers and keyboards, Crowder brings a unique mix of electronic folk to the grounds of Wiston House.
The extra Percussion too adds so much to the overall sound of the band, the kick drums especially! If anyone has heard Hillsong United's newest album 'Empires' then you will know the song 'Rule' but never quite like this. Crowder completely made it his own as the field sang along to every word. The musical journey continued with Crowder as he sang 'Come As You Are' and 'My Victory' with the lyrics 'A cross meant to kill is my victory!' which just left me in awe.
My Highlight though was 'Lift Your Head Weary Sinner'. This slightly rocked up version really sounded massive, even Verra Cruz would struggle sounding this raw. As the band played and Crowder sang, you could hear and see the conviction of the lyrics hitting people right in the heart, an amazing moment.
Finally before Crowder left the stage, as usual he ended his show with a medley of I saw the light/I'll fly away along with a classic hoedown.
Man I wish I was there for this. I have heard so much great stuff about this performance but unfortunately during his set I found myself back at the campsite eating curry. I could hear Tye's iconic screech travelling through the air back towards where I was camping. The bits I did hear sounded awesome though, he played classics such as 'Nothing, You Are Good and Bless The Lord (O My Soul)'. It has gone down as many of my friends favourite performance and it is something I most definitely won't miss if he comes back next year.
Just like the day before with Jesus Culture, everything aside from the main stage starts to shut down and the people gather together to worship. This time Phil Wickham had the privilege of leading us. Opening with new songs Doloxology // Amen into 'Your Love Awakens Me', there is a danger the people become disengaged like the day before but for whatever reason, by the time we were into the chorus of Your Love Awakens Me, people seemed to be really behind Phil.
It always makes me chuckle though as half the band as always are wearing sun glasses, does Phil have a dress code for his band or is it always that sunny when he goes on to lead?
From There, the set became more familiar as Phil spoke and Prayed before leading us with 'At your name'. "It's an absolute pleasure to be here and worship with you guys" he says with authenticity as he begins Cornerstone.
Just like Tim Hughes the day before, it really felt like Phil had stepped up in how he leads his people, especially through his prayers which was refreshing to see.
Phil then spoke with so much sincerity, something I feel his voice emphasises when he sings. He spoke about a new realisation of identity in God, a process he went through, that he had to understand his identity is not in the works he accomplishes or doesn't accomplish but it is in God which makes him and makes us righteous Children of God! A key point I feel this generation of Christians must take hold of. We are children of the most high God, white as snow, clean, forgiven, more than conquerors! This speech was followed by his new song 'Children of God'.
Later, there was this point where Phil asked everyone if it would be ok if he could get a drink of water before moving on where he then begins to share with us his journey of writing his song 'Starmaker'. He talked about how he had this whole new realisation of Gods holiness through his interactions with his daughter whilst reading a book and so wrote a song around it. Something as simple as that can really help people when singing, it brings a whole new depth to the context we are singing from and it helped us understand the song greater and share in the same revelation Phil was explaining.
It was during this beautiful song that I looked around at Gods beauty, the hills that surround, the details of the trees on my left, the people standing in awe, the sound of the song capturing the discovery of Gods holiness, it was a treasured moment. From here Phil continued the theme of Gods holiness and sang his popular song 'you're beautiful'. Here a friend pointed out the flags and reminded me of the stories of Wiston House, of how God has claimed back the land through his people and from here his kingdom will be established, its a wonderful story and full of so much beauty.
From seeing Phil lead worship, I really believe God is awakening deeper songs in artists like Phil. Tim and Phil both stepped up in their leadership over the weekend and people were transformed through their speaking and leading!
You're beautiful was followed by a powerful yet simple 'How great Thou art.' The context again meant a real powerful response from the people! I wish this however could of gone on longer for it felt cut too short for another new one called 'wide awake'. The final song we sang together with Phil was 'This Is Amazing Grace' which was an appropriate declaration to end on!
I've lost count of how many times Matt Redman has closed BCDO but it is no surprise why they keep bringing him back.
For the second time today, the set starts with a rendition of 'Praise God from whom all blessings flow' before breaking into well known song 'Our God and newer song 'Louder' which awkwardly didn't have any words so became another new song perhaps a little lost amongst the people.
Matt spoke and prayed around the revelation that we are here, a multi cultured body of followers under one name and here for the same reason whether we know it or not. Matt then reminds us that "When we draw near to God, he draws near to us." Us with our imperfections! That is who the Lord of the Universe draws near to! And thus the rest of the evening became a pursuit for many thousands of people, some for the first time and some pursuing God in a new way.
With songs such as 'You Never Let Go' and 'Abide with me' the theme of Gods love became very present again and as I looked around I could see people including grown men understanding the love of God in a new way, some I am sure for the first time, again another really beautiful moment from BCDO.
Lines like the following were certainly meeting the hearts of men and women present. "I have a home, eternal home but for now I walk this broken world. You walked it first, You know our pain but You show hope can rise again from the grave"
This continued with a powerful rendition of 'Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)'where again more people were declaring 'Take Me Deeper' for the first time.
Finally before the final Alter Call of the event, Matt led us in Simple Pursuit, a song from Passion 2016 into the heart of worship chorus, bringing us back to a place of simplicity where we declare we are a people who have an 'unswerving faith In the power of his name'. Nothing else and no one, just a Simple pursuit between God and his people.
As Pete Greig declares "It's all about Jesus" and many more choose to place Christ first in their lives, Matt leads us in a final celebration with 'King of my soul' and 'we are the free.' Perfect songs to celebrate our brothers and sisters salvation and the love of God over his people! What a grand ending to another fantastic Big Church Day Out! (It should be called Big Church Days Out really hehe).
After Hours: Kings Kaleidoscope
If my BCDO experience ended with Matt Redman, I would be happy but nope, let us go one further and worship with Kings Kaleidoscope once more, but this time in the intimate Kingdom Come worship tent!
It really was close, intimate and loud! Their set this time being more hymn orientated, it enabled us to interact with some ancient lyrics in a fresh and creative way. Hymns such as In Christ Alone, Be Thou My Vision, How Deep the fathers love, and Nothing but the Blood were all played in ways which I haven't really heard before. They were dynamically matching the lyrical content with their playing whilst playing in some strange time signatures yet it wasn't pretentious, it was creatively matching what we were declaring.
However this late night worship session wasn't without originals either for 'Seek your kingdom' got its second airing as did Felix Culpa and closer Defender. Other songs which made an appearance were Dreams and All Creatures. It was truly an awesome way to finish the weekend and I look forward to hearing their new album when it gets released as well as seeing where these guys go in the future.