What's on in Cheltenham
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Date: August 2007


 

'With a lineup that ranges from Chas ‘n’ Dave to Kanda Bongo Man, this year’s Greenbelt promises to be as eclectic as ever.'

 

George Luke looks forward to some of the acts performing at the Greenbelt Festival

With a lineup that ranges from Chas ‘n’ Dave to Kanda Bongo Man, this year’s Greenbelt promises to be as eclectic as ever.

Here are just four of the acts coming to Cheltenham this weekend…

On Friday, Sheffield four-piece The Gentlemen play in the Underground. It should be a fantastic gig, if their debut album, Smile Back at Me, is anything to judge by.

Smile Back at Me is packed with cheerful, jaunty rock tunes, with a dash of funk, some pop and even a little jazz guitar thrown in. The guys have a knack for coming up with catchy choruses; just try not singing along to “Digging Deep”.

Sharing a home town with the Arctic Monkeys, the Gentlemen have had to put up with lazy critics comparing them both. But the Gentlemen do hold their own… and in those suits, they would look good on a dancefloor.

Splash

Let’s hope it doesn’t rain on Sunday; otherwise, Christafari’s Mainstage gig won’t be so much reggae Sunsplash as just a splash. Mark Mohr and his band last played Greenbelt five years ago; this visit coincides with the release of their latest album, To the Foundation.

At a time when the reggae scene seems overrun with ragga DJs, it’s always good to see someone bringing the old school roosty sound back, along with the social and spiritual content helped make reggae special in the first place. There’s even a ska track (“The Prodigal”) for those who want to get even more old school!

These days, Mark Mohr has been drawing much of his musical inspiration not from Jamaica but from his wife’s homeland, Trinidad (he’s married to the daughter of Ras Shorty I, the musician credited with inventing Soca music). As a result, several of Trinidad’s top gospel and reggae acts make guest appearances on the album.

New American act This Beautiful Republic make their UK debut on the Mainstage on Monday, playing tracks from the recently released Even Heroes Need a Parachute.

Nature

It’s hard not to think of Switchfoot whilst listening to This Beautiful Republic. That’s not to say they’re derivative; their musical influences are easy to spot (there’s a little Foo Fighters in there somewhere) but the personal nature of their song lyrics kind of puts their stamp on their music. I particularly liked the tracks “The Surface” and “Jesus to the World”.

One act I’m really looking forward to seeing on Monday is Irish singer/songwriter Peter Wilson, aka Duke Special.

Songs from the Deep Forest , the Duke’s debut album, overflows with class. “Everybody Wants a Little Something”, “Last Night, I Nearly Died”, “Portrait” and “Freewheel” are simply exquisite.

Songs from the Deep Forest is a fine introduction to an artist who is sincere, thoughtful, and not afraid to wear his 70s pop influences on his sleeve, or to sound big and theatrical when the need arises. Thankfully, he’s not as OTT with it as Mika or the Scissor Sisters.

Click on the links below to buy the albums from amazon.co.uk, and Christian Aid receives part of the proceeds:

Duke Special – Songs From the Deep Forest

The Gentlemen – Smile Back At Me

This Beautiful Republic – Even Heroes Need a Parachute

Christafari – To the Foundation available on amazon.com but not yet on amazon.co.uk

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