Big Church Day Out Takes UK By Storm

With the arrival of summer, it inevitably brings a wave of Christian festivals from around the globe. One of these festivals is The Big Church Day Out (B.C.D.O) (www.bigchurchdayout.com), which is held every year in the U.K. It is spread over two separate weekends, at two different locations. The first stop is in the south of the U.K, at Wiston House, West Sussex. The second location is held in the north of the U.K, at Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield.

+TCB Exclusive Photos: B.C.D.O. UK 2018

B.C.D.O is spearheaded by Tim Jupp, who formerly played keys and piano in the band Delirious. Since its birth in 2008, well over forty thousand people attend every year from all over the U.K, and in fact from around the world. This year was particularly significant for B.C.D.O, as it celebrated its tenth year as a Christian festival!

This year, at B.C.D.O South, which was on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th May 2018, there were approximately 90 different musicians and bands from around the world invited to play at the festival. Amongst these, were The Flight Brigade (www.flightbrigade.com), Lion Of Judah (www.lionofjudahuk.bandcamp.com), Crowder  (www.crowdermusic.com), LZ7 (www.lz7.co.uk), Kari Jobe (www.karijobe.com), Britt Nicole (www.brittnicole.com), Tom Read (www.tomreadmusic.com), Philippa Hanna (www.philippahanna.com), Rivers and Robots (www.riversandrobots.com), Martin Smith (www.musicglue.com/martin-smith), Lily-Jo (www.lilyjo.co.uk), for KING & COUNTRY (www.forkingandcountry.com), New World Son (www.newworldson.com), Matt Redman (www.mattredman.com) and Verra Cruz (www.facebook.com/verracruzofficial). 

The weekend of music for me started at 12pm on Saturday 26th May at the main stage with music from Flight Brigade. The band's members include Oliver Baines, Miriam Baines, Dory Macauley, Thomas Pink, Neil Blandford, Tom Clay and Jonny Barker. With an alternative and driving sound, they included songs such as “How Could It Ever Be The Same”, ”Be My Valentine", and my favourite from the set list, “Chased By Wolves.” 

Next, I had to speedily walk to The Illuminate Stage for 12:45 pm, as I wanted to listen and photograph the band Lion of Judah. Lion of Judah is from Brighton, U.K. Its band members consist of Josh Bannister (Guitar, Synth, Lead Vocals), David Blight (Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals), Matt Knight, Adam Nichols (Synth and Backing Vocals) and Isaac Bannister. Just before getting into their set list, Josh Bannister said of B.C.D.O: “Festivals like this represent Christian’s creating art, and we are really passionate about that! Christians have the most beauty in their lives to talk about, to write about, to paint about, to sing about, or whatever other forms of art there is.” Lion of Judah have a strong indie synth-pop sound, which the crowd really enjoyed. My favourites were “Firm Foundation”, “I Am Jonah”, “Buried At Sea”, “Sufficient For Me”, and in particular “Job’s Reply."

After having a break for lunch, I went to the main stage to listen to and photograph Newworldson at 2:25pm. Newworldson is from Niagara Falls, Canada and it’s band members consist of Joel Parisien (vocals and keys), Mark Rogers (drums and percussion), Leroy Emmanuel (guitar and vocals), John Irvine (bass and vocals), Daryl Dixon (alto saxophone), and Dave Watson (tenor and baritone saxophone). Newworldson has a gospel, funk and soul sound to them. I really enjoyed their sound and I was impressed by their performances. I particularly enjoyed, “Learning To Be The Light’, the reverberated sound of the bass during “There Is A Way”, and “Working Man”; which got the crowd really dancing and clapping.

In order to get to the next band starting the performance at 2:45pm, I had to walk very rapidly back to The Illuminate Stage. Next for me, I had the honour, privilege and was very blessed to be able to photograph, my now friend, the very talented Tom Read and the rest of his band. Tom is from Oxford, U.K. In April, Tom released a new album titled, “Lament”. During his time on The Illuminate stage, he and his band mates played a variety of songs, including those from his new album. Favourites of mine include “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep”, “In The Ordinary” and in particular; “Re-Write The Story”, “Gravity”, and “Dead Things To Life”. This was only my second time seeing Tom play a live performance. His time on stage felt really short, but for me was oh so enjoyable! Tom and the rest of his band always put a lot of energy into their performances, whilst really lifting up God with an alternative style of worship and praise, and this time, on The Illuminate Stage at B.C.D.O was no exception!

Next at the Illuminate stage at 3:45pm, was Lily-Jo. Lily-Jo is from Manchester, U.K. Her band members include Adam Smirkle, Aaron Forbes-John, Dave Fidler, Sam Allen, Nigel Williams, and David Lamberth. With songs such as “Say Yeah!”, “Bring Me Back To Life”, “Unstoppable”, “Show Me”, “Good Enough” and “We Were Young”, her pop/soul style got the crowd really going with both her strong and powerful vocals and high energy performances. What I REALLY liked about Lily-Jo, is that during her time on stage, she talked about mental illness, encouraged the crowd to seek help if anyone was struggling in this area.

After Lily-Jo, the band Verra Cruz was on The Illuminate Stage at 4:45pm. Verra Cruz is a hard rock band from St. Albans, U.K. Verra Cruz is made up of Marc James, Jimmy Cooke and Henry Cross. During their time on stage, they played “Soul Collides”, “Violent Sun”, “The Ballad Of Jimmy James”, and “Put The Weapon Down.” Before playing “Put The Weapon Down”, Marc told a true story about how someone tried to start a fight with him. He said, “A gentle word turns away wrath!” He said that you have to fight the urge to respond to aggression with the same attitude. He said that he’d seen the same man a few days later, said hello and gave this man a hug, and told this man that it didn’t have to be the end for him, that he could still turn around and follow the way of love. The sound balance wasn’t quite right during their time on stage, as at times Marc James’s vocals sadly were overwhelmed by the sound coming from the guitars and the drums. As a result of the sound not being right, the band came across as being overloud! It was like huge waves of sound crashing onto the shore! However, I am a huge lover of rock, so the music that Verra Cruz played was exactly to my taste! I was also impressed by Verra Cruz’s positive attitude and their terrific interaction with the crowd. The energy that they created and exuded throughout their whole performance was just electrifying!

After having a break, I rushed back to the main stage for 7:40pm to listen to and photograph Crowder. David Crowder is from Atlanta, U.S.A. David Crowder and the other members of the band had the crowd really singing along effectively with songs like “I Am”, “My Victory”, and “Glorious Day”; which had the crowd raising their hands in the air and enthusiastically jumping. In their time on stage, I really enjoyed seeing Crowder and his band around one microphone acoustically performing “How He Loves Me” followed by “Come As You Are”, as the sound coming from the band at this time was beautifully soulful. I also really enjoyed listening to and experiencing the “hoe down” part of their performance. During the entertaining “hoe down” section of their performance,  Crowder and his band played “I Saw The Light” and “Fly Away”. In fact, the whole performance and time on the main stage was delightful to be apart of and to watch.

After Crowder, the main stage ended with the appearance of Kari Jobe at 9:05pm. The performances of other bands on other stages had ceased, which meant that the whole part of the main stage arena was filled with people. As Kari beautifully sang, “Holy, Holy, Holy” it began to rain. She followed this by singing “What A Beautiful Name”. Both these songs, plus the pouring rain, created a wonderful atmosphere of worship. Then Kari invited Stu G and Martin Smith onto the stage together to play and sing, “Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble”. For me, this was a wonderful moment to observe, as I hadn’t seen them together on stage in years! Kari then followed this with a new song called, “Cover The Earth”, which the crowd thoroughly enjoyed! Kari beautifully and powerfully sang songs like, “Spirit Break Out”, “I Am Not Alone” and “Reckless Love”, all of which had the crowd effectively singing along with her. She finished her time on stage by powerfully sing, “The Cross Has The Final Word.”

This B.C.D.O was different to others, because after Kari Jobe finished her time on stage, Pete Greig preached powerfully on unconditional love, and then invited people within the main arena to commit their lives to Jesus. After Pete Greig had invited people to give their lives to Jesus, he asked people to light up their phones and hold them up in the air, to symbolically show the light of Jesus coming into their lives. This was a truly beautiful moment to witness! So many people did decide to have a response to this call for faith. It was so wonderful to observe!

The night ended with a variety of after hour programmes in various locations. I decided that I would go the Kingdom Come marquee and listen to and photograph Martin Smith. Martin played some beautiful songs. With Martin, the crowd sang along in adoration to God. My favourite amongst the songs played was, “Our God Reigns”. This song created a peaceful and serene atmosphere, full of awe, worship and wonder. During Martin Smith's time on stage, you could really feel the love of God, his peace and grace descending. The whole atmosphere was truly tranquil! It was truly beautiful to be a part of!!

The next morning, Sunday 27th May, I relaxed for quite a while. My day of photographing and listening to bands and musicians started at 1:20pm.

I started by going to the Tea Tent area, to listen to and photograph the musician, singer and songwriter Philippa Hanna. Philippa Hanna is from Sheffield, U.K. The sound that she has encapsulates a variety of different genres. It is a fusion of acoustic, pop, country, folk, soul and indie sounds. Philippa has strong, powerful and effective voice, and her song writing abilities mirror this. Whilst on stage, she sang a variety of songs including “Arrow”, which has a pop style and tempo to it and speaks of how as humans we are made to fly. She also sang “Off The Wagon”, which has a country sound and feel to it, and encourages people to keep going with their faith. It also speaks of how if and when we fall “Off The Wagon”,  God can pick us up and put us back onto the right path again. She sang her own version of “Dancing In The dark”. Philippa had changed the words to this song, and the song now talked about finding God's love and grace. The lyrical changes to this song were powerful and perfectly poetic. Whilst on stage she also played a favourite of mine, “Raggedy Doll”. This song has a strong tempo to it. It speaks about God's creation of us as human beings, of how before God breathed life into us like a lifeless doll. The song also speaks of the strength of God’s love for each of us. For me, it was one the highlights to her time on stage.

After listening to and photographing Philippa Hanna, I hurriedly made my way to the main stage for 2:25pm to listen to and photograph Britt Nicole. Britt Nicole is from Nashville, U.S.A. Britt has strong vocals and her sound entirely suits her style of pop. In fact, in my opinion, I'd say that Britt Nicole was this year’s pop princess! During her time on stage, she dazzled the crowd with the fast tempo song, “Gold”, which got the crowd waving their arms around and really singing along with her and embracing her pop style of music. She then took a few moments to speak to the crowd. She said, “Every time I see your faces, I'm reminded why we do what we do. That there’s purpose in every song! This song means so much to me! It is the cry of my heart, to remind people of who they are. I know that there are people out there today, that there are people out there who have walked through some hard things! And because of that, maybe it’s hard to see yourself as royalty. Maybe it’s hard to believe that! God’s word says that he has made you a little lower than the angels. His word says he has crowned you with glory, and with honour! So we are going to believe that!” This encouragement felt like she was adorning the crowd in beautiful refinery and jewelry, like we were the ones who were of great value! Britt then encouraged the crowd to believe this statement by lifting up their hands, and then praying, “God we are just going to run after you, even in this moment we are going to run after you!” She followed this encouragement and prayer by singing the slow tempo but beautiful song, “Nothing Sweeter” and then briefly singing part of the song, “You Are Good”. She then declared that God is a good father and then asked for the crowd to lift up their hands and pray for healing. Britt then followed this by gearing up the tempo and singing, “Work Of Art”, “The Lost Get Found”, “Set The World On Fire”; which had the crowd jumping around. She finished her time on stage by singing a 1980s styled song, “Fallin In Love.” Britt Nicole's performances were powerfully executed. It was both emotionally and spiritually powerful, as by the end of her time on stage, you could really feel the sense that God was present.

After this, I hurriedly made my way to the Kingdom Come marquee to listen and photograph “Rivers and Robots” for 3pm. Rivers and Robots are an indie praise and worship band from Manchester, U.K. The band consists of Jonathon Ogden, Nathan Stirling and Caleb Choo. Their time on the Kingdom Come stage was both serene and a relaxing change of pace to the busy chaos of my day. I felt like I was able, for a short time, to soak in and breathe in the love and the presence of God. I really enjoyed both the praise and the peaceful worshipful atmosphere that they created with songs like, “We Have Overcome”, “Lift UpMyy Eyes”, “High Priest”, “To The Highest Place”, and "Satisfy”. My favourite song to hear them perform was a song called “Dreams”. This song was beautiful in its lyrics, tempo, in its melody and in the wonderful worshipful atmosphere that the song created. What was unique about Rivers and Robots time on stage was that during their performance there was an artist painting upon a canvas. In my opinion, this both mirrored and matched the beauty and serenity of the music that they performed.

After leaving the Kingdom Come marquee, I rapidly walked back to the main stage to listen to and photograph LZ7 for 3:40pm. LZ7 is an electronic dance band from Manchester. The band consists of a mixture of different musicians. This can vary in each concert. Consistent band members, however, are Lindz West, Louis Read, Lily Jo, Mary Kate Matthews and Lee Matthews. Musicians Andy Hutton, and Roo Walker also often join LZ7. My time with LZ7 started with hearing them play and sing, “It’s A Beautiful Symphony”, followed by “You Put A Stop On Me” and “Only The Brave”. Before introducing and singing the next song, Lindz said, “One year ago a bomb went off in Manchester city centre. I believe that when you stand for something you don’t fall for everything that is out there! You see when you stand up for something, you say to yourself, “You know what I am going to be part of the change instead of part of the problem!” You take the elevator to the next level!” This introduced the song “Elevator” to the crowd. Although this isn’t my kind of music, this was my favourite song to listen to and watch LZ7 perform! Watching LZ7’s high-energy performance, made me decide that I needed a long break! After this, I returned to the main stage for 6:20pm to listen to and photograph the band for KING & COUNTRY.

For KING & COUNTRY is a Christian pop duo comprised of two brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone and other guest musicians. They are originally from Australia, but now based in Nashville, USA. for KING & COUNTRY started by enthusiastically performing the drum-heavy and up beat tempo song, “Fix My Eyes”, which had the crowd eagerly responding, animated, jumping and clapping their hands. This was followed by, “It’s A Fine Fine Life”, “Messengers, “Dreamers”, and “God Only Knows” all of which met with the crowds approval. for KING & COUNTRY finished their time on stage with singing the slower tempo anthem, “The Proof Of Your Love.” Overall I enjoyed for KING & COUNTRY's performances because of the energy that they all exuded from the stage, because of the number of various instruments that they used during their performance, and also because of Joel’s encouragement to the crowd.

The rest of the night I spent at the main stage. The next artist to grace the crowd on the main stage at 7:40 pm was Martin Smith. Martin Smith is from Brighton U.K. Martin is famous for being the front man of the former band, Delirious. He is now the front man of the band Army of Bones and is also a solo artist, producer, songwriter, guitarist and singer. Martin was accompanied by members of Army of Bones and by his daughter Elle Limebear. Martin opened up his time on stage by singing the line, “Our God Reigns’, which transitioned into the praise song, “Emmanuel”, which speaks about God being with each of us all of the time. Martin transitioned this song, towards the end of “Emmanuel”, into his own version of “How Great Thou Art” by singing the line from this song, “There sings my soul”. The crowd really enjoyed this song. It had them enthusiastically singing along, raising their hands up in the air, clapping and jumping up and down. He then went into one of my favourite praise songs that Martin has written, “God’s Great Dance Floor.” The crowd thoroughly embraced the feeling and fast paced rhythm of this song. It again had them jumping up and down, clapping and singing their hearts out! I personally loved hearing this live, because of the passion, rhythm and feel of this song! It was clear to see that Martin and the rest of the band were enjoying themselves during this song! In fact, a group of people were allowed to go up on the stage with him to dance during this song to join in the sense of fun that Martin and the rest of the band were having! This was followed by a new song called, “Leap Of Faith”, and then by the song, “Waiting Here For You.” The crowd really embraced the atmosphere created by Martin and the band in this song, by heartedly singing along and by lifting their hands up in the air.

Martin then launched into, “Oh Praise The Name”, which was followed by an Army Of Bones Song, “Love Song For A City”; which had Martin powerfully yelling in it. A very special moment followed. Martin invited Tim Jupp onto the stage with him. He thanked him for launching B.C.D.O ten years ago. This had the crowd enthusiastically applauding Tim for fulfilling his dream of B.C.D.O. They then together played, “Thank You For Saving Me”; which was the very first song that they wrote together, and had the crowd worshipfully entering into the song with both Martin and Tim. The song, “Jesus Only You” was then sung, followed by the stunning slow paced worshipful song, “Come Holy Spirit”. During this song, whilst singing, Martin powerfully emphasised the words, “Living Flame On Us”, which was just so emotively enchanting to listen too! Martin ended his time on stage by singing the last song that he wrote and sung with the band Delirious. He gave the crowd, “My Soul Sings.”

The night finished with Matt Redman appearing on the main stage at 9:05 p.m. Matt Redman is an author, worship leader, singer and songwriter based in Brighton, U.K. Matt was accompanied at B.C.D.O by a variety of talented musicians and singers. Whilst Matt was on the stage he powerfully sang “Blessed Be The Name”. He then switched things up by following with the faster upbeat tempo song, “Rugged Cross” Other songs that he included within his set were, “The Lion And The Lamb”, “One Day”, “The Heart Of Worship”, and my favourite amongst them all, the beautiful worship song, “Reckless Love”. These songs had the crowd enthusiastically, heartedly singing and praising along with him and the rest of his band. Matt Redman and the band effectively created a mighty atmosphere of worship and praise in the crowd.

Matt invited various artists to the stage to sing a few songs with him. One of those artistes included Gunva B, with whom he sang, “Ten Thousand Reasons”. Just before Matt launched into his next and last song, Pete Greig appeared onto the main stage and preached a short but powerful message of encouragement, of hope and also of the love that God has for each and every one of us! He also announced next year’s B.C.D.O, and told the crowd two things. Firstly that ticket’s were available to be purchased immediately for B.C.D.O 2019. Secondly, sadly there was a deficit from this years B.C.D.O. He asked for people to donate money so that they could pay off this debt, and so that next year’s B.C.D.O could take place.  

After Pete Greig had finished preaching, Matt started up the music again, and finished his time on stage by singing the moving and powerful praise song, “Great Are You Lord”, which had the whole of the crowd singing their hearts out, and lifting their arms to God in worship! As he finished singing this song, in celebration of B.C.D.O’s tenth birthday, beautiful and colourful fireworks lit the sky! It was as if it was to further display the splendour and majesty of God’s power. What a way to finish B.C.D.O 2019!

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