gospel gathering uk IndigO2 london ****
It's a rare thing for urban gospel music to get any major attention in this country, given its narrow fan-base of God-fearing church people whose zeal for Jesus hasn't quite translated into growth for the struggling market. But with American platinum- pushers such as Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary and Kirk Franklin topping the bill, you'd have expected one of the UK's first major gathering of gospel stars to be the catalyst that finally gives the genre its big break.
Admittedly, the promotion wasn't great and being downsized from a Butlins weekender to two nights at the teeny IndigO2 had to hurt, but after a lively display of everything from meditative ballads to krumping stompers, this festival has proved that the scene is on the rise.
Roger Samuels initiated the proceedings, and his soothing acoustic music set the precedent for Friday, which was largely attended by a mature black crowd accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of church life - so at times, hands were raised in reverence, and the occasional "Amen" reverberated around the room. A similar performance from Mark Beswick and Power Praise followed Samuels, before the eclectic Muyiwa and Riversongz appeared.
But when Bishop John Francis and his ginormous choir took to the stage, he enlivened the crowd with a mix of hymns and Nigerian traditionals that got people jumping in the aisles. …