Review: Big Church Day Out South 2018

Jonathan McReynolds
Jonathan McReynolds gave a strong Main Stage performance

From the outset, the lineup looked appetising. In our preview of the Big Church Day Out 2018, we listed just some of the amazing artists scheduled to appear and that was just scratching the surface. All in, the weekend turned out to be another memorable festival.

Big Church Day Out really is a highlight in the Christian music calendar, particularly for the Sound Doctrine right from the very beginning. This year was made even more special by the fact that it was the tenth year of BCDO. With plenty to celebrate, the programme looked suitably huge.

Kari Jobe
The rain didn’t stop us enjoying Kari Jobe’s Saturday headline set

First, our highlights. Jonathan McReynolds was the best artist we saw over the two days. Sure, how do you compare such a high number of artists from a wide breadth of genres with each other? For our money, he did a perfect set for the time he was scheduled to be on the main stage.

Jonathan McReynolds didn’t do a headliner’s set, although he could have quite easily done so. And besides, Kari Jobe did a great job in that department on the Saturday. What he did was flawlessly deliver some of our favourite tracks in a way that almost made the admission price worth it in and of itself. Although he’s been to the UK before, this was the first time we’ve seen him live. His vocals are so effortless and he worked well with the band to bring some magic to the weekend early doors.

Matt Redman
Matt Redman had a few surprises up his sleeve as he closed off the weekend

We also have to mention Matt Redman here too. Yes, we’ve seen him headline BCDO before but this was a different type of set. He mixed things up in a way that kept everyone happy and he did so without things feeling contrived. We’ve long wondered when we would see a black artist headline Big Church Day Out. That didn’t happen this year but there were two clear moments created during the Matt Redman Sunday night set that showed promise.

Firstly, Guvna B came out, not just to briefly show his face. He was out on stage for three full songs and one of those was his own record Nothing But The Blood. Guvna B, who played a blinder this year with his own Main Stage and Illuminate Stage sets, also provided a guest rap for a special version of 10,000 Reasons.

Guvna B
Guvna B will be pleased with his 2018 BCDO showing

The collaboration here made sense. Guvna B has recorded with Matt Redman and has toured the US with him. He also provides a bridge that connects the audience together. We heard a lot of buzz for Guvna B around the site this year and saw a lot of Allo Mate t-shirts. He must be doing something right.

Travis Greene also joined Matt Redman on stage at the tail end of the headline set to sing Do It Again – a track Redman wrote for Elevation Worship. Travis Greene really added something here without hijacking the song. A true professional.

Other standouts

But they’re all established artists we already knew. Who were the people we saw for the first time this year?

Tim and the Glory Boys
Hopefully this won’t be the last time we see Tim & the Glory Boys

We have to give to give a shout out to Tim & the Glory Boys. We know it’s wrong to do this but we almost decided we liked them before we heard them play a note. The Canadian band looked the part, especially one band member who hit the Arkyard Sessions stage decked out in a Stetson hat and lumberjack shirt.

When your band consists of guitar, slide guitar and banjo (or hillbilly instruments, as Tim called them), you’re on to a winner. Tim & the Glory Boys were hilarious and their passion didn’t wane even on the fourth hoedown performance of the weekend.

Stravenger Gospel Company
Stravenger Gospel Company brought gospel music from Norway to the Tearfund Tea Tent

There was also Stravenger Gospel Company at the Tearfund Tea Tent. The Norwegian choir is huge and there was some power behind the vocals. An intrigued Jonathan McReynolds pulled up a plastic lawn chair for a front row seat for this one and they were impressive. All lead singers were strong and they sang a collection of well-known songs that the audience could sing along to. Gospel is indeed a genre with worldwide appeal.

Shan Smile
Shan Smile’s soulful acoustic set sounded great in the sunshine

We also got our first taste of the Crowder Band. At times they weren’t too dissimilar in style to Tim and the Glory Boys but they also ran the full gamut of rock, hip hop and even ended with Crowder version of the traditional hymn Because He Lives.

After seeing weather forecasts for rain and thunderstorms across both days, we’re happy to report that it turned out to be the hottest BCDO we remember going to. The only rain we saw was during Kari Jobe’s Saturday headline set and that was so good, nothing was going to dampen our spirits. We have loved this and every BCDO we’ve been to over the last decade. It’s going to be interesting to see how the event evolves in the future.

What was your highlight? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

BrightLine electrified the Illuminate Stage on Sunday morning

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